Every month officers from this department take samples of many different foods from a range of premises within the Bassetlaw district, which are then tested by a laboratory to ensure that they are safe to eat.
We decide which foods will be tested based on a program set out to meet the requirements of European, national and local priorities. These can be from the local corner shop, through to larger supermarkets and also from businesses that manufacture food on site. Therefore, a cross-section of food businesses within the district will have their food sampled during each year.
The samples taken are also varied and can include food stuffs, water, dairy items and/or environmental samples. Environmental samples may be obtained by the swabbing of work-surfaces or the sampling of dishcloths.
The samples are collected under aseptic conditions, so that they are not open to contamination in any way during sampling. They are then transported under appropriate temperature control conditions, to the Health Protection Agency laboratory for bacteriological analysis.
The laboratory carry out the tests and notify us of results within a short time period. Where there are any concerns identified we will be notified by telephone immediately so that any poor results can be followed up by an investigation. Depending on the cause of the concern this could involve inspection of the business or more formal action. It may be that the problem relates to the production of food in another part of the country in which case we would liaise with other local authorities to ensure that no foods of unsatisfactory bacteriological standard are sold.