"Killer coleslaw" is back on the menu at a Bedfordshire garden centre after a health and safety inspector banned it during a TV programme.
BBC1's Food Inspectors on 9 January showed a council inspector ordering Mill End Nursery owner Andrew Asprey not to sell the £2.50 coleslaw, which he makes from locally sourced carrots.
The inspector said the carrots could transmit E.coli because they were not bleached. Asprey objected, saying he wanted to source and sell local food.
The former investment banker told HW that he defied the inspector to keep his keynote product, which he has renamed "Killer Coleslaw", on the menu.
"The inspector was going by his interpretation of the law, which is to treat root veg in the same way you'd treat meat," said Asprey. "I put washed carrots in the fridge in the same area as leaf veg and he was concerned about cross-contamination. He went a step further and said we should only use bleached carrots from the supermarket but my whole philosophy is to try and use fresh, local food and not buy from Tesco."
Asprey said some council inspectors were overenthusiastically interpreting Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidelines. He advised other garden centres to stick to their guns with sensible food safety, citing his use of recycled jam jars, which FSA regulations suggest should not be allowed.
He added: "I'd kick my own front door down before I stopped using recycled jam jars. I have a clean kitchen and run it according to my interpretation of the law."
A Central Bedfordshire Council representative said: "The guidance was unclear regarding washing carrots - the team has ongoing specific meetings to discuss the interpretation of this guidance so that they can follow a consistent approach."
Washing vegetables - Guidance documents
The Food Standards Agency's guidance about washing root vegetables can be found in two documents:
- E. Coli 0157 Control of Cross-Contamination Guidance for Food Business Operators & Enforcement Authorities (published in February 2011)
- Third Edition - July 2012 Q&A Food Standards Agency Guidance: Controlling the Risk of Cross-Contamination from E. Coli 0157