VTEC/E. coli O157 Action Plan for Scotland, 2013-2017

An Action Plan setting out recommendations to tackle the transmission of VTEC/E. coli O157 infection.


i) Membership of the VTEC/E. coli O157 Action Group:

Edward Coyle - NHS Fife (Chair)

Bob Adak - Public Health England

Mark Aitken/Calum McPhail - Scottish Environment Protection Agency

James Beattie - Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow

Gareth Brown - Scottish Government Health Protection Team (succeeded by Simon Cuthbert-Kerr)

John Coia - Scottish Salmonella Shigella and Clostridium difficile Reference Laboratory

John Cowden - Health Protection Scotland

Lucy Denvir - NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Jim Dixon - Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland

Alison Duncan - Scottish Government Corporate Project Office (Project Support)

Mary Hanson - Scottish E. coli O157/VTEC Reference Laboratory

Robert Howe - Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland

Helen Howie - Consultants in Public Health Medicine Group

Frances Kelly/David Coackley - Health & Safety Executive

John Locke - NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Mary Locking - Health Protection Scotland

Chris Low/Geoff Foster - Scottish Agricultural College (now SRC)

Ishbel MacKinnon - Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome Help (HUSH)

Charlotte Maltin - Quality Meat Scotland

Jacqui McElhiney - Food Standards Agency in Scotland

Dominic Mellor - Health Protection Scotland/University of Glasgow

Nigel Millar - National Farmer's Union Scotland

Alison Motion - Royal Highland Educational Trust

Kevin Pollock - Health Protection Scotland

Andrew Riley - Scottish Government Health Protection Team (succeeded by Duncan McCormick)

Colette Robertson-Kellie - Drinking Water Quality Regulator

Roland Salmon - Public Health Wales

Janet Sneddon - Scottish Government Health Protection Team

Abhayadevi Tissington/Lynn Byers - Health Protection Nurse Specialists Group

Andrew Todd - Monklands Hospital, Motherwell

Sheila Voas - Scottish Government Animal Health Division

David Williamson - Scottish Government Drinking Water Quality Division

ii) Remit and Terms of Reference of the VTEC/E. coli O157 Action Group:

To reduce the risk and consequences of VTEC infection to the Scottish population

Strategic Aims


  • Produce a VTEC Action Plan, identifying priorities and recommendations to specified stakeholder groups, to be implemented within agreed timescales.
  • Recommendations will include:
    - Risk reduction strategies.
    - Communication, health education, research and surveillance initiatives.
  • Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of these strategies and initiatives.


The Action Plan will:

  • Identify the precise responsibilities of key stakeholders e.g. Scottish Government Departments, Health Protection Scotland, NHSScotland, Food Standards Agency (Scotland), Local Authorities, Drinking Water Quality Regulator (Scotland).
  • Review, revise, and assign to stakeholder groups, the VTEC Task Force recommendations.

Monitoring will consist of:

  • Ascertaining from VTEC AG members their progress on implementation of Action Plan recommendations.
  • The VTEC AG will conduct an annual review of overall progress on implementation.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of recommendations in terms of:
    - Their immediate consequences (e.g. public knowledge, attitude, and behaviour); and:
    - Attempting to assess the overall impact of the Action Plan recommendations as a whole.


  • The Action Plan will be owned by Scottish Government.
  • The Action Group will have no formal accountability, but will advise SG, HPS, Health Protection Network Steering Group (HPNSG), and, if appropriate, other stakeholder groups, on its assessment of the VTEC Action Plan's performance, appropriateness and effectiveness.
  • The Action Group will meet at a frequency appropriate to its tasks.


Scottish Government will lead the Action Group, delegating specific functions to other agencies e.g. HPS, FSAS.


The Action Group will:

  • Communicate with SG, HPS, HPNSG, Health Protection Agency (HPA) and other stakeholder groups via their VTEC Action Group members.
  • Produce an annual statement of progress.
  • Continue to meet as necessary after producing the Action Plan, in order to monitor the progress and impact of recommendations.

iii) Abbreviations and Acronyms:

CAR - The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations, 2011 (known as the "CAR Regulations")

CFA - Chilled Foods Association

DPMAG - Diffuse Pollution Management Advisory Group

DWQR - Drinking Water Quality Regulator

EC - European Commission

EFSA - European Food Safety Authority

EU - European Union

FBOs - Food Business Operators

FCI - Food Chain Information

FHIS - Food Hygiene Information Scheme

FSAS - Food Standards Agency in Scotland

GAP - Good Agricultural Practice

GP - General Practitioner

HACCP - Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point

HB - Health Board

HPA - Health Protection Agency

HPNSG - Health Protection Network Steering Group

HPS - Health Protection Scotland

HPT - Health Protection Team (in NHS board)

HS - Health Scotland

HSE - Health and Safety Executive

HUS - Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

ICoP - Industry Code of Practice[69]

IMT - Incident Management Team

LA - Local Authority

LAEMS - Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System

NFUS - National Farmers Union Scotland

PEPFAA - Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (the PEPFAA Code)

POU - Point-of-use

PT - Phage type

PwC - Price Waterhouse Cooper

PWS - Private water supply/supplies

QMS - Quality Meat Scotland

REHIS - Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland

RELU - Rural Economy and Land Use

RTE - Ready to eat

SCSWIS - Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland

SEPA - Scottish Environment Protection Agency

SERL - Scottish E. coli O157/VTEC Reference Laboratory

SG - Scottish Government

SRC - Scottish Rural College (formerly Scottish Agricultural College)

SoCOEHS - Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health for Scotland

SW - Scottish Water

UKAS - United Kingdom Accreditation Service

UKFSS - UK Food Surveillance System

UV - Ultraviolet

VTEC Verotoxigenic E. coli

VTEC AG - VTEC/E. coli O157 Action Group

WHO/FAO - World Health Organisation/Food & Agriculture Organisation

WSP - Water Safety Plan

WTW - Water Treatment Works

iv) Glossary

  • Animal visitor attractions e.g. Open farms/farm parks; animal petting/handling areas within other attractions (including zoos); educational establishments e.g. city farms; working farms with livestock that occasionally open to the public, e.g. for school visits, Open Farm Sundays, etc; rare breed/rescue centres; markets, agricultural shows or country fairs where livestock are present; mobile menageries or petting/handling enterprises; other visitor facilities where the public have animal contact, even if (like stables) they represent a lower risk of VTEC carriage than premises with ruminants; and any picnic/play areas these attractions include that could be contaminated e.g. by faeces tracked in by humans or animals.
  • Contamination - the presence, or potential presence, of VTEC organisms in or on the animal, human, substance or environment concerned.
  • High risk groups:
  • - Groups at higher risk of acquiring infection - i.e. groups such as children, the elderly or those who are immunocompromised, who have characteristics that make them more vulnerable to becoming infected - [as opposed to "At special risk of passing on infection [see below].
    - Groups at special risk of passing on infection - as defined by the VTEC Guidance - e.g. the under 5s or others likely to have immature or poor personal hygiene, and those whose work includes food handling or personal care tasks for others [as opposed to "At higher risk of acquiring infection", see above]; also know as Risk Groups A to D.
  • Private water supplies - anything other than a public water supply. They are the responsibility of the owners and users of the supplies.
  • Public water supply - a water supply provided by Scottish Water as part of its core function as a water authority.
  • Raw meat - meat that has not been heat-treated.
  • Type A PWS - defined as supplying 50 or more persons; or 10 or more cubic metres of water; or regardless of size, any supply for a commercial or public activity[70].
  • Type B PWS - defined as any non-Type A supply[70].


Email: Jeanna.Sandilands@gov.scot 

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