Food Safety Service Plan 2015 / 2016

Contents 

 

Introduction 

This Service Plan has been developed by Bassetlaw District Council in line with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Framework Agreement, as amended in 2010, which requires Local Authorities to produce an annual service plan detailing the Authority’s arrangements for discharging its statutory Food Safety responsibilities. It forms the basis of the Authority’s food business inspection and enforcement functions, and ensures that national food priorities and standards are addressed, as well as locally identified needs.

The production of a Food Service Plan ensures that local food business operators, members of the public, Members of the Council and other agencies understand the approach to food safety inspection, intervention and enforcement adopted by this Authority. This service plan details how the Environmental Health Regulatory Team of Bassetlaw District Council plans to undertake its duties and contribute to national targets and locally identified priorities and ambitions. It also demonstrates our commitment to the provision of an effective and value for money service that is fair, consistent, open and proportionate.

 

Service Aims and Objectives

Service Aims 

The aim of Bassetlaw District Council’s Food Safety Service is to ensure, through a combination of inspection, interventions, education and enforcement, that food and drink which is produced, stored, distributed, prepared or sold within the District meets food safety standards and is without risk to health.

We will ensure that all Food Safety law enforcement that is undertaken by Bassetlaw District Council is informed by the principles of;

  • Proportionality in application of the law and securing compliance
  • Consistency of approach
  • Targeting of enforcement action, and 
  • Transparency in how we operate and what duty holders subject to regulation, and the wider public may reasonably expect

 

 Key service delivery objectives 2015/16

  • To undertake a risk-based programme of official controls and other interventions, in accordance with the Food Law Code of Practice (England) and any associated Practice Guidance. Official controls are those undertaken to check compliance with food laws and will comprise visits to premises to undertake food hygiene inspections, audits, sampling, monitoring, surveillance or verification. Other interventions consist of advice, education, coaching and information and intelligence gathering. 
  • To register food businesses in accordance with the Food Premises (Registration) Regulations 1991, as amended.
  • To carry out a programme of sampling in accordance with national and locally agreed initiatives.
  • To implement the National UK Food Surveillance system (UKFSS) for our food samples.
  • To provide advice, guidance, information and education on matters relating to food safety and hygiene, both pro-actively and in response to requests from food businesses, and the wider residential community.
  • To respond to complaints concerning food safety.
  • To provide a risk-based response to notifications of food related illnesses.
  • To carry out regulatory responsibilities in relation to food safety in a manner consistent with best practice as identified by the Hampton Review of regulatory inspections and enforcement and by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). This means that inspection, intervention and enforcement activity will be necessary, appropriate, targeted and proportionate to the risks posed.
  • To publish the scores of Food Safety inspections to the public via the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme website and carry out the inspection and rating of included premises in line with the ‘Brand Standard’.
  • To meet local Performance Indicators set for the food Safety Service.
  • To review and update and further develop the content of the service’s internet pages.
  • To participate in National Food Safety Week and other relevant educational events.
  • To provide advice and guidance to food businesses in relation to the Food Information regulations that are due to come into effect in late 2014.
  • To encourage food take away businesses to offer healthy choices
  • To continue the introduction and enforcement of Food Information Regulations

 

National Priorities for Local Authority Food Safety Services

Overarching and informing the Local Authority Food Safety service plan is the national regulatory and legislative landscape. The Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System (LAEMS) is a web-based system used by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for local authorities to report detailed data on all their food law enforcement activities, to the FSA, on an annual basis. This data was used to form a National Performance Indicator that has now been deleted from the National Indicator Set. However, the score is still produced during the LAEMS data upload process and therefore still contributes internally to providing performance information towards our overall service performance.

 

Links to the Corporate Objectives and the Corporate Plan 

The Council has a Corporate Plan for 2014 – 2017, which sets out the Authorities priorities for the next three years.

The Council's ambitions are: 

A viable co-operative Council Local Growth
Quality Housing & 
Decent Neighbourhoods
Local Living Standards

These ambitions are supported by a range of priorities including:

  • Creating an environment which attracts new businesses and supports business growth,
  • Attracting inward investment and promoting Bassetlaw as a place to do business,
  • Ensuring Bassetlaw has a high quality retail and leisure offer,
  • Attracting new business start-ups and increasing footfall,
  • Working with partners to develop skills and promote employment prospects,
  • Taking appropriate and proportionate enforcement action where necessary.

Safer and healthy food is one of the most direct and effective ways of improving the quality of people’s lives. The work carried out by the Council’s Food Safety service contributes to these priorities in terms of providing advice and guidance to new and existing businesses on cost-effective compliance with food safety legislation and helping to ensure the provision of safe and wholesome food within the Bassetlaw District. This not only improves health and well-being of the local community but supports local businesses and the local economy.

 

 

Background

Profile of the Bassetlaw District

Bassetlaw lies in the north of Nottinghamshire and occupies almost 30% of the county’s area at 63,687 hectares. Most recently available figures put the population of the district is estimated at around 111,400. The main economic and population centre’s are Worksop and Retford, with 60% of the population living in one of these two towns The remaining residents live in rural areas in one of the 73 villages in the district; only 17 of these have populations over 1000. The rural communities are very diverse ranging from small market towns and former mining communities, to very small hamlets. The A1/A1M, which has recently been upgraded, runs the length of the district and provides good transport links to local businesses.

The total number of registered food businesses within the district as of 1st April, 2014 is around 1053, a steady increase over the past five years from the 873 at April 2010. Although the highest proportion of these are located in the main centre’s of Worksop and Retford, and the larger villages of Harworth, Bircotes and Tuxford, there is quite a wide spread of small food operations throughout the entire geographic area.

According to the most recently available statistics, 3.6% of the population is from ethnic minority groups and 18% are over 65.

Council Organisational Structure

Bassetlaw District Council has adopted a structure of Cabinet and Leader, with certain Councillors having Portfolio responsibility for specific services.

 

Council structure

The Environmental Health Service sits within the directorate of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods. The portfolio is Neighbourhoods and the portfolio holder is Cllr Julie Leigh.

Overall strategic responsibility for the Food Safety Service lies with the Director of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods. The senior management structure has been reviewed and a Head of Neighbourhood Services was appointed in June 2014. The Environmental Health Department is now made up of five teams: Commercial, Neighbourhoods, Pollution, Housing Standards and Admin. Support. The Commercial Team operates the Food Safety Service, based in Queens Buildings, Worksop. Currently, day-to-day service delivery is supervised by the Environmental Health Team Leader (Commercial), reporting to the Environmental Health Manager.

senior management structure

Environmental Health Department Structure 

Environmental health structure

 

 

Scope of the Council's Food Safety Service

The aim of this structure is to ensure the quality, consistency and prioritization of food safety matters by enabling effective delivery of all aspects of the Food Safety service. These Commercial Team officers specialize in dealing with regulatory matters, and are also responsible for health and safety inspections & accident investigations in a variety of commercial premises, as well as infectious disease investigations, massage and other special treatment licenses, animal licensing functions, caravan site licensing and food & water sampling.

To facilitate maximum efficiency and flexibility, the service has, in the past, been partially delivered through the use of external contractors for some low and medium risk food hygiene inspections, some alternative enforcement work and some food safety training and coaching. Pre 2010 contractors delivered about 200 food safety inspections a year. From April 2011 all Food Safety work has been completed in house. It is anticipated that this will also be the case for 2015/16, unless significant unforeseen circumstances arise. The selection and use of external contractors is a decision taken by the Environmental Health Manager in consultation with the Head of Neighborhoods should the need arise.

To maintain a high quality service, Bassetlaw District Council officers would, in any event, carry out the inspection of all ‘high risk’ (A and B rated) premises and all approved premises. This ensures that resources are targeted at the categories of premises where risks have been identified, allowing for a greater consistency and continuity of control and enforcement activities.

The food examiner at the Public Health England laboratories at York currently provides specialist analyst services. This provision is a relatively new arrangement due to the centralisation of analytical services. This arrangement is working well to date and appears to be a better service with more flexibility for the taking of samples. Public Analyst Services are contracted to the County Analysts in Staffordshire.

Key functions in relation to food safety:

  • Risk based inspection of food premises within the district 
  • Other investigations
  • Investigations of food complaints 
  • Responding to food alerts
  • Investigating food related illness and infectious disease notifications 
  • Registration of food premises 
  • Carrying out an annual food sampling programme 
  • Dealing with imported food and its origin 
  • Provision of advice and information to businesses and the public 
  • Carrying out food safety awareness activities and campaigns 
  • Educative work with food business operators 
  • Rating Food Businesses under the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme 

Demands on the Food Safety Service 

As of the beginning of April 2015, Bassetlaw District Council had 1121 registered food businesses. The risk profiles of these premises are shown below at Figure 1, and have been determined in accordance with the Food Standards Agency code of Practice.

Risk Rating Frequency of Intervention Premises in Category
A Every 6 months 2
B Every 12 months 27
C Every 18 months 154
D Every 24 months* 432
E Every 36 months** 476
Unrated   16
Outside Programme   14
Total   1121

*D rated premises are currently being inspected and are not being subjected to alternating interventions. Due to the implementation of the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, and the upcoming new Food Information Regulations, it is deemed most appropriate to carry out inspections of these businesses and it is therefore anticipated that this Authority will continue to inspect these premises as they become due, and not alternate inspections with an alternative intervention strategy. 

**It is not proposed to inspect all category E premises, but to undertake an alternative intervention and check that they have not substantially changed their level of operation. However, since the implementation of the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme we will be looking closely at the E rated premises and will inspect any that are deemed to require an updated FHRS score.

A comparison of the risk profiles of the District’s food premises over the last six years is detailed in Figure 2 (below).

graph of risk profiles

2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
887 873 915 969 1013 1028 1107

 

It is noticeable that there is now a significant trend of a reducing number of higher risk premises and an increasing number of low risk premises. This is due to a combination of factors; improving standards due to the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, increasing numbers of people setting up ‘baking from home’ types of business and a large number of rural village halls etc. In addition, changes to the national code of practice have resulted in a number of C rated premises being reclassified as D rated.

Fluctuations in both the total number of registered premises and the risk ratings of those premises is not unusual as, during the course of any year, significant numbers of premises will open, close down or undergo changes of ownership or management or both. These premises are removed from or brought into the risk rated programme as the changes occur throughout the year. This means that the service responds to variations in numbers and alterations to the predicted programme of inspections on an ongoing basis. It has been particularly noticeable during the last financial year that there has been an increase in the amount of businesses closing and opening due to the current economic climate. Overall the trend for food premises is rising. From 2008 to this year the numbers have risen by over 16%.

There are several EC approved premises and some other large scale manufacturers in the district, including:

  • Large National Manufacturer
  • Large/medium scale meat products plants 
  • Large scale vegetable preparation / freezing manufacturer 
  • Ice cream manufacturer 
  • Cheese maker & exporter
  • Large Cook Chill food manufacturer 
  • Large scale sandwich manufacturers 
  • Dairy Products 

The service successfully submitted the return to the Food Standards Agency Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System (LAEMS) within the deadline. Now in the sixth year, this web based system of reporting has not been without teething problems nationally, as well as locally. This method of data collection required considerable resource for the first 4 years, but now seems to be embedded into our systems. Production and cross checking of this return does however still take time.

Linked to the Hampton Report and the Rogers Review, there is also the ability to change the way we deal with low risk premises by using alternative enforcement activities and interventions. We will continue to review whether our methods are the most effective during the course of the year.

The service will continue to carry out coaching of food businesses using the Food Standards Agency “Safer Food Better Business” pack as required. This will build upon the work carried out under a previous Food Standards Agency grant. Additionally, officers are being trained in relation to the forthcoming Food Information Regulations in order to be placed to advise businesses and eventually enforce as appropriate.

The service will ensure that food business operators within the Bassetlaw district follow FSA guidance on cross contamination and risks from e-coli.

Staff will also seek to raise awareness regarding healthy choices and encourage take away food businesses to provide a healthy option.

Qualified Environmental Health staff, operating from Queens Buildings in Worksop, deliver the Food Safety service. Office hours are between 08:45 and 17.00, Monday to Friday. Evening and weekend inspections and interventions are carried out as determined by risk and service requirements and the premises opening hours.

Emergency Food Safety matters are channelled through an out-of-hours emergency number, operating through a call centre. Emergencies would be passed to a senior officer who could contact members of the food safety team if required. Although specialist food safety officers could be contacted they are not on duty at all times.

Regulation Policy

Bassetlaw District Council recognizes the importance of having a documented policy on food safety regulation and enforcement, including prosecution. This facilitates consistent and fair enforcement of food safety legislation. 

The Enforcement policy has been reviewed and updated by The Environmental Health Manager responsible for Food Safety matters with reference to guidance offered by The Department of Health (DoH), The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Food Standards Agency (FSA), The Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORs), The Chartered Institute Of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Local Better regulation Office (LBRO). The updated Environmental Health Enforcement Policy Document was submitted for approval and was adopted by the Council on the 17th Dec 2010 (minute No 48D). This document will continue to be regularly reviewed by the service and in association with other Nottinghamshire Authorities through relevant food liaison group networks in order to maintain consistency of enforcement nationally and across the Nottinghamshire area.

The Environmental Health Service will carry out their duties in accordance with the principles of Good Regulation. The five key principles of regulation, which are now a cornerstone of the better regulation strategy state that regulation should be; transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted only at cases where action is needed.

This means that the Environmental Health Service will carry out their functions in an equitable, practical and consistent manner to promote a thriving local economy, whilst working to secure a safe and healthy environment for all residents and visitors.

Enforcement decisions are also determined with reference to the overarching 2005 Council Enforcement Policy document.

The Council is committed to achieving its stated aim through a service delivery approach that is designed to:

  • Help businesses and others meet their legal obligations without unnecessary expense.
  • Take firm action, including prosecution where appropriate, against those who flout the law or act irresponsibly.

 

Service Delivery

Interventions at Food Establishments

The Authority’s programme of Interventions is based on guidance contained within the FSA Food Law Code of Practice 2014. 

Interventions are key to improving compliance with food law by food business operators. The range of possible interventions allows authorised officers to use their professional judgement to apply a proportionate level of regulatory and enforcement activities to each food business. These interventions will be applied in a risk-based manner so that more intensive regulation is directed at those food businesses that present the greatest risk to public health.

Interventions are activities that are designed to monitor, support and increase food law compliance within a food establishment. They include, but are not restricted to, ‘official controls’. In addition to official controls, interventions also include other activities that are effective in supporting food businesses to achieve compliance with food law, such as the provision of targeted education and advice that takes place at food establishments, or information and intelligence gathering.

Official Controls include monitoring, surveillance, verification, audit, inspection, and sampling and analysis. Interventions that are official controls must provide sufficient information to establish that food-related activities carried out at food establishments comply with food law. Other interventions, i.e. those that do not constitute official controls, include education, advice and coaching provided at a food establishment and information and intelligence gathering. More than one type of intervention may be carried out during a single visit to a food business establishment.

This means that, dependent on risk, all premises will receive an intervention that is either an official control, a non-official control or come under an alternative enforcement strategy, within a range of 6 months to 3 years. Approved premises are included within this programme. Officers who inspect premises subject to product specific approval have been appropriately trained to carry out such inspections. This includes officers trained in inspecting and approving cheese processors and dairies.

All food safety interventions will be carried out in accordance with the Council’s adopted procedures on food safety inspection and intervention and will meet the objectives of the Food Law Code of Practice and associated guidance. Emphasis will also be placed on the premises compliance with the requirements for a documented control system and on raising standards in premises to meet the criteria for ‘broad compliance’. The authority will also treat securing compliance with published FSA e-coli guidance as a priority.

Category E Premises

Establishments that have been given an intervention rating of category E for food hygiene may be subject to an Alternative Enforcement Strategy. This means there must be an intervention not less than once every three years for food hygiene. This does not preclude full inspection, partial inspection or audit of such establishments, where these are the Authority’s preferred intervention option

It is anticipated that, subject to continuous review, certain of the ‘E’ rated premises, will, at the discretion of the authority, be included in an alternative enforcement strategy during 2015/16. However, those that form part of the food Hygiene Rating Scheme are likely to be subject to inspection, partial inspection or audit. This will help to ensure that ratings published by the authority are as up to date as possible.

Category D Premises 

Establishments that have been given an intervention rating of D for food hygiene should receive an intervention every 24 months. These can alternate between interventions that are official controls and those that are not. However, as most category D establishments also fall within the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme it is anticipated that they will continue to receive official controls that are inspections, partial inspections or audits. This will help to ensure that ratings published by the authority are as up to date as possible. 

Category C Premises

Establishments that have been given an intervention rating of C for food hygiene should receive an intervention every 18 months. Interventions should consist of an inspection, partial inspection, or audit until such time as the establishment is considered by the Authority to be “broadly compliant” with relevant food law. Once broad compliance has been achieved, planned interventions may alternate between inspections, partial inspections, or audits and other official controls.

Category A & B Premises

The appropriate planned intervention for an establishment that has been given an intervention rating of A or B for food hygiene is an inspection, partial inspection, or audit. These must be completed every 6 months for category ‘A’ premises and every 12 months for Category ‘B’ premises. Any other additional interventions, such as sampling or education and training, will be recorded against the establishment for the purpose of monitoring enforcement actions is not the primary intervention. 

Planned Intervention Programme 2015/2016

Food Premises Risk Category Minimum Inspection Frequency No. of Premises at start of the 2015/2016 year Proposed Intervention Programme for 2015/2016
Category A 6 Monthly 2 2
Category B Annual 27 26
Category C Every 18 Months 154 68
Category D Every 2 Years 432 137
Category E Intervention
every 3 years
476 115
Unrated To be integrated into inspection programme as appropriate 16 16
Totals   1107 364

Overall, the proposed intervention figures will be subject to variation throughout the year depending on changes to the status of premises during the year, and how many new businesses open and how many other existing premises close & reopen. 


New Businesses

In line with Food Standards Agency guidance it is the aim of the service to inspect new premises within 28 days of opening, or of our becoming aware of their existence. Following the initial inspection an intervention rating for the establishment will be determined. Inspections of new premises will be prioritized according to perceived risk, and such inspections are in addition to the above figures. In 2012/13 there were 117 new registrations, in 2013/14 there were 143 and finally last year there were 129. It is anticipated that there will be at least a similar number of such inspections during the course of the 2015/16 year. This is a sustained increase on the level of new business we used to see, prior to the recession. This higher level of new registration does affect our overall level of food premises, however some new registrations are also caused by existing premises closing and reopening under new ownership. For comparison;

2009 / 2010 2010 / 2011 2011 / 2012 2012 / 2013 2013 / 2014 2014 / 2015
83 110 116 117 143 129

Revisits 

A revisit procedure has been implemented by the service. Premises where a statutory notice has been served, that are found to require significant work to be carried out, that are not ‘broadly compliant’ with food law or that are not meeting the requirements for a documented food safety system will be subject to a revisit within an agreed timescale to check on compliance. There was a notable increase in revisits conducted for 2014/15. This may be due to the increased use of interventions to resolve problems, or as a result of the FHRS system becoming more embedded within businesses and requests from that source becoming more numerous.

2009 / 2010 2010 /2011 2011 / 2012 2012 / 2013 2013 / 2014 2014 / 2015
112 153 251 164 168 264

An estimate of the resources currently available for this years proposed programme of work is detailed in Table 2 below. 

Officer FTE
Environmental Health Manager 0.3
Environmental Health Officers  1.4
Technical Officers 1.1
Administration  0.4

Food Complaints

Complaints about food, food premises or hygiene practices are investigated as appropriate to the circumstances of the complaint, and are dealt with in accordance with the Council’s adopted procedure. Complaints about food labelling matters are referred to the Trading Standards department of Nottinghamshire County Council in accordance with a countywide protocol.

Where new information arises, in the case of a justified complaint or unsatisfactory sampling result, the Authority will consider whether it is appropriate to conduct an inspection, partial inspection or audit to investigate the matter.

In 2011/12 the department dealt with 79 complaints about food or hygiene matters. During the 2012/13 year that rose to 101. In 2013/14 there were 80. 2014/15 figures remained at similar levels coming in at 81. For the forthcoming year, if the number of contacts received remains within these levels, it is anticipated that about 160 hours (0.1 FTE) of Officer time may be required to deal with food complaints.

Primary Authority Principle 

Bassetlaw District Council fully supports and endorses the Primary Authority Principle. The Council acts as the originating authority for eleven medium to large manufacturing premises. We currently are also Primary Authority to Wilkinson’s in relation to food safety matters in all their stores. We will carry out regulatory visits of any premises that have formed a Primary Authority Partnership with a Local Authority in accordance with the Primary Authority Scheme.

The Council is committed to responding positively to enforcing authority enquiries and will endeavour to provide such authorities with sufficient information and help to enable them to make appropriate enforcement decisions. This may include inspecting a food premises in order to carry out on-site investigations where it is felt that this course of action is necessary or appropriate.

There can be are large variation from year to year as to the time and resources needed for these activities. It is estimated that these activities may result in a time allocation need of around 80 hours (FTE 0.05)

Advice to Businesses 

The provision of advice and guidance to food businesses and to the general public on relevant food safety issues is seen as one of the inherent responsibilities of the department. One of the Environmental Health Service’s on-going objectives is to maintain an educative approach, where possible, in relation to the enforcement of Food Safety legislation. This includes advice given during routine inspections and also advice given to new or prospective businesses. There continue to be time pressures and competing priorities for Officer time and this can often mitigate against spending more time providing advice to businesses. On-going pressures to carry out more work with the same or fewer resources means that the time to provide advice during interventions can be limited. The advisory and educative elements are also often covered additionally to the routine intervention programme. A programme of butchers training workshops has been one such educational initiative. Working with caterers on compliance with the Food Information Regulations was part of a major piece of work for last year and will in part be carried over into this current year to help new businesses come to terms with the new requirements.

The Council was successful in the past in achieving funding from the Food Standards Agency in relation to Safer Food Better Bassetlaw. The successful bid enabled the authority to run a series of successful workshops in partnership with North Notts College and to follow up these workshops with one-to-one coaching visits in catering and retail premises. Feedback from workshops and coaching sessions was extremely positive, and initially businesses had responded well. Longer term evaluation shows that the benefits have been diluted by the effects of the large number of premises that have changed hands and that continuous prompting is required to ensure that food business operators continue to comply with the requirements of the system in difficult economic trading conditions.

We aim to try and provide relevant guidance face to face, in hard copy and via the Council website. It is important to use the most appropriate methods for the business in question and try to remain flexible in this area.

Based on past history, it is anticipated that the food service will receive around 130 requests for advice and guidance over the year. The estimated time needed for provision of food safety advice and participation in educative initiatives will be around 320 officer hours (0.2 FTE).

Food Sampling 

A food sampling programme of Bassetlaw District Council consists of:

  • A programme of sampling coordinated through the Nottinghamshire Food Sampling Group, a sub group of the Nottinghamshire Food Safety Working Group. This group is made up of representatives from each Local Authority, Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Examiner based at York Laboratory. The service also takes part in the National Sampling Programmes identified by LACORS and PHE, and when required European sampling objectives. 
  • Samples taken outside of the above programmes which are determined on the basis of precious sample results and perceived risk of premises. 
  • Samples from Approved premises within the district. 

Outside of this programme, additional reactive sampling may be undertaken in response to food complaints, food poisoning investigations, and notifications of Legionella. Specific consideration is also given to whether samples need to be taken during routine food hygiene inspection work. 

It is anticipated that the likely time allocation for these activities will be around 320 hours (0.2 FTE) of Officer time. The cost of analysis of these samples is usually covered by the Council’s allocation of public health laboratory sampling credits.

During 2014/2015 we achieved a total of 120 samples, which represents a maintenance of sampling rates from previous years. This meets the target of 110 samples per year that would be the rate expected of an authority of our population. Full participation in the co-ordinated sampling programme is an important departmental objective. 

For 2015/16 we aim to maintain our sampling activity and to implement the National UK Food Surveillance system (UKFSS) for our food sampling. Samples go to the HPA laboratory in York. Public Analyst Services are contracted to the County Analysts in Staffordshire.

food sampling programme

Control & Investigation of Outbreaks and Food-Related Infectious Diseases 

Bassetlaw District Council is committed to carrying out thorough investigations of food poisoning/food-borne infectious disease outbreaks as appropriate, and in accordance with the Councils adopted procedures. Each notification will be given sufficient investigation in order to establish, if possible, a cause, other linked cases, highlight any necessary enforcement action and ensure that the food poisoning/infectious disease is prevented from spreading further. In order to achieve this, the Council will work together as appropriate with PHE, GPs, CCDCs (local or otherwise) and other Local Authorities in accordance with national guidance and the North Nottinghamshire Outbreak Control Plan. 

The Food Safety Working Group in Nottinghamshire have worked in conjunction with PHE to establish guidelines on response times for investigation, selection of incidents for full investigation and to develop standard questionnaire forms for use by all authorities. This promotes good practice and consistency across Nottinghamshire. We liaise closely with the Public Health England on these matters. 

previous food poisoning reports

Food poisoning levels seem to be showing a decline, however last year there was an increase. This may be an anomaly, however whether or not this is a genuine trend will not be known until this year’s data can be reviewed. Most food poisoning, as shown on the chart is due to campylobacter. It is estimated that work on food and water related illnesses is likely to involve around 80 hours’ work (FTE 0.05).

Food Safety Incidents 

Bassetlaw District Council is committed to playing an active role in the national management of food safety incidents and responding swiftly and appropriately to any food alerts that it receives. Food Law Code Of Practice (England) and associated Practice Guidance advises food authorities of the action they should take if a potential problem comes to light. The Council follows guidance from the FSA in respect of all food hazard warnings for action and emergency control orders, and it’s own adopted procedures for food safety incidents.

During the year 2014/15 there were 73 alerts issued by the Food Standards Agency. Almost all of these were product recall notices and required little if no action locally to resolve.

2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
89 55 51 63 77 42 45 44 73

A Product Withdrawal Information Notice or a Product Recall Information Notice is issued where a solution to the problem has been put in place – the product has been, or is being, withdrawn from sale or recalled from consumers, for example. A Food Alert for Action is issued where intervention by enforcement authorities is required. These notices and alerts are often issued in conjunction with a product withdrawal or recall by a manufacturer, retailer or distributor.

Actions resulting from these Notices vary but most Notices are now provided to the authority for information only, however some will still require immediate action from the department. Realistically there has been a reduction in the time spent dealing with these Notices as the system and co-ordination has been greatly improved by the FSA. It is estimated that the resources needed for this function are unlikely to exceed 80 hours of Officer time (FTE 0.05).

Liaison with other Organizations

Bassetlaw District Council works together with other organizations in order to ensure consistent, effective, best value services that meet the needs of our customers. In addition, where requests for service or advice fall under the remit of another enforcing body or agency, the department will forward all relevant information to that organization and inform the customer of the details they need. Liaison arrangements with other organizations in relation to food safety include:

The Nottinghamshire Food Safety Working Group

This Group meets on a quarterly basis and is attended by all Nottinghamshire Local Councils and also representatives from Trading Standards, PHE and the FSA. The purpose of this group is to provide effective liaison between Local Authorities on Food Safety matters and a forum to discuss/implement fair and consistent enforcement approaches. The Group also evaluates common training needs and has a co-ordination role for county wide training events. During 2013/14 the PEHM from Bassetlaw District Council was secretary to the group.

The Nottinghamshire PHE Liaison Group

This Committee meets on a quarterly basis and is attended by all Nottinghamshire Councils and PHE representatives including microbiologists and infection control staff. The purpose of the Group is to liaise on infection control matters, formulate infection control policy and outbreak control plans. 

Other Liaison Arrangements

  • Regular contact with HPA, DoH, DEFRA, MAFF and FSA, on food safety issues as they arise.
  • Sampling group.
  • Comments given in respect of Public Entertainment and other License applications to Legal and Estates Services.
  • Comments given to The Planning Services Department in respect of planning applications involving food premises.
  • The Public Health Laboratory over sampling regimes and results interpretation.
  • The Food Standard Agency over the standard and level of performance of the Food Safety Service.
  • BRDO in relation to Primary Authority Partnerships

It is estimated that the resource allocation for these activities is around 320 hrs of Officer time (FTE 0.2).

Food Safety promotional work and non-official control interventions 

Educational and promotional works are considered to be important aspects of the delivery of a comprehensive food safety service. Promotion of food safety issues will be achieved in the following ways:

  • Targeted advice / information sent to relevant groups on issues of local or national significance.
  • Active promotion of themed and targeted food safety messages such as cross-contamination and e-coli.
  • To provide ongoing one to one coaching advice to businesses on HACCP utilising the "Safer Food Better Business Pack" as may be appropriate.
  • Bassetlaw District Council focus strongly on personal hygiene and hand washing as a means of reducing incidents of food borne illness. The authority has purchased a UV light box and disclosing cream to show the efficacy of a person's hand washing routine. 
  • This year the department will actively promote Food Safety Week to advise on the risks from washing raw chicken and raise awareness of factors leading to food poisoning, particularly campylobacter. In addition other education and promotional opportunities will be sought. 
  • The department will continue to use the Butchers Pack that is designed to improve standards of hygiene in this sector. 

It is anticipated that the above activities will require a resource allocation of around 320 hrs of officer time (FTE 0.2).

 

Resources

Financial Allocation 

  Food Financial Allocations 2014/15
Employees 118,000
Supplies 7,000
Supplies 500
Income (1000)
Net Expenditure 124,000

The sampling budget is £300.

There is no explicit allocation of any funds to the service for legal action and this has to be approached on a case by case basis. That said it is not deemed to be an issue as the Authority is supportive of proportionate and targeted enforcement action.

Although the Authority has made significant cuts to budgets over the past 4 years, there have been no staffing cuts made to the food safety service to date, other than a budget for external contractors. As they were no longer required because vacant posts were filled this is not viewed as a problem. However, resources are stretched and it is of concern that the team is involved in potential legal action in a number of areas at present, which could impact on routine work. The estimated net expenditure is estimated to have dropped from £213,800 for 2011/12 to £180,000 for 2012/13 to to £174,069 for 2013/14. This is a reduction of around 18.6% over 4 years. Please note that the current budget was calculated and issued according to the new financial management system. As such it may not necessarily be directly comparable to previous years budgets.

Staffing Allocation

Staff conducting food safety inspections are all EHORB registered and have the qualifications required under the Food Law Code of Practice 2014. It is estimated that the full time equivalent number of posts for all food safety functions detailed in this plan equates to .3 FTE at Principal Officer level, 1.4 FTE at Environmental Health Officer level and 1.1 FTE at Technical Officer level, plus additional administrative support. For this year it is the intention to carry out all the food safety inspections and interventions in house. This will be kept under review and will be subject to change if unforeseen absences should occur.

Officer FTE Time available for Food Safety
Environmental Health Manager 1.0 0.3
Environmental Health Officers EHORB Registered 2.0 1.4
Technical Officers Higher Certificate 1.4 0.8
Technical Officer Ordinary Certificate 1.0 0.3
Admin 0.8 0.4

Staff Development Plan

Staff Development and Appraisal meetings are conducted annually for all staff and these are used to set performance objectives and to identify any training and development needs of staff. Training and Development needs are ascertained and linked in with corporate objectives. Reviews are undertaken before and after training/development activities in order to ascertain the expectations and outcomes of such activities.

The Training budget for 2015/16 will be determined corporately and allocated to service areas by the Corporate Management Team. Food safety training needs are prioritised in the context of the wider service requirements identified in the service wide training plan. The Food Safety Officers always meet the requirement for 10 hours CPD in food related training, and usually training far exceeds this minimum requirement. Training is usually a mix of externally provided and corporately arranged training. The Authority subscribes to the East Midlands ‘Five Pack +1’ low cost training, and the department regularly also send staff to local CIEH arranged low cost training events.

The Nottinghamshire Food Liaison Group, on an annual basis, determines any training/development needs which may lead to provision of cost effective training events for enforcement Officers across the County.

In 2014/15 Food Safety Officers benefited from a wide range of training designed to update and enhance skills in all areas, subjects and topics covered by this training are listed below. The training program for 2015/16 has yet to be finalized.

Food Standards Agency Updates

Annex 5 Consistency

Allergens

Food Poisoning

Legislation Update Training

 

 

Quality Assessment

Quality Assessment and Internal Monitoring

Bassetlaw District Council is committed to providing high quality services and ensuring that such services are reviewed for quality of delivery. The Council as a whole was awarded the Investors in People (IIP) award in 1998 and retained this award following assessments in 1999/2000 and in 2006, 2009 & 2012.

Bassetlaw District Council operates a quality procedure that lays down monitoring mechanisms to be adopted. The quality of inspections is achieved and monitored by:

  • Quality procedures for inspections and enforcement
  • The use of standard reporting formats 
  • Checking of notices prior to service
  • Monitoring of inspection reports
  • Evaluation of post-inspection questionnaires
  • Accompanied visits / inspections
  • File Monitoring
  • Consistency checks of customer records 

The Principal Environmental Health Manager will take any necessary corrective action. This could include additional monitoring, additional training, inconsistency reviews, suspension or disciplinary action.

Any formal complaints made against the service are investigated and monitored in accordance with the Council’s Complaints Policy. There have been no such complaints in connection with food safety enforcement.

Through the Nottinghamshire Food Liaison Group, inter-authority auditing has been carried out as well as consistency visits and exercises. It is intended that this inter authority work will allow good practice approaches to be highlighted and adopted as appropriate. Benchmarking is taking place in Nottinghamshire during this financial year.

During July 2008, the food safety service received an audit by Food Standards Agency. An action plan was submitted in response to this and formed the basis for on-going improvements to the quality of the service during the forthcoming financial year. A re-visit was made during Feb 2010 and the Authority was signed off on all but one of the items raised at the original inspection. During the spring of 2011 the Authority was asked for further documentation in relating to the one outstanding matter and subsequently it was then confirmed that the Audit had been closed.

The Environmental Health service as a whole received an internal audit during 2010 and there were no recommendations arising from this that related directly to the food safety service. Follow up internal audits have taken place subsequently with no actions identified in relation to food safety.

The Authority took part in a Notts wide inter authority audit during 2012 in relation to the implementation of the national guidance on cross contamination and e-coli. Furthermore an additional inter authority auditing exercises was conducted within Nottinghamshire regarding the implementation of the FHRS scheme and brand standard.

 

Review Process

Review against Service Plan 

Food safety inspection performance and broad compliance with food hygiene law are still reported annually as a local performance indicator in the form of the PI score produced by submission of the LAEMS data. The target for 2013/14 was 92.5. The actual score achieved was 96.5.

The number of premises in each category within the Food Hygiene rating scheme was also reported quarterly via the covalent performance management system. There are no targets set for these.

Performance against objectives and targets contained within the Food Service Plan 2013/2014 are detailed below. The annual service plan is the mechanism for reviewing the previous year’s performance.

  Aim Anticipated Outcome Achieved ?
1 Continue to participate in a food sampling programme to include the required level of imported food samples and ensure sampling credit uptake is met. Take part in National and Regional sampling surveys and also take the requisite number of important food samples YES
2 To link the UK FSS sampling software to external Labs and FSA to enable the Authority to access better data to inform sampling activities and reduce reporting requirements To put all samples through this system and to link for receiving data and providing reports to external organisations YES
3 To refresh and the Authorities Sampling Policy. (Carried Forward) Launch a refreshed food sampling policy and launch this with publicity to raise awareness of sampling activities.  NO - Ongoing
4 To complete all Food Safety Inspections and interventions in line with National and Local targets. A Local Pls is in place to replicate the deleted National PI. This is reported Annually. The target for 2014/2015 is 93%. Performance levels will continue to be reported through this annual plan as well as internally through 'Covalent' to the overview & scrutiny committee. YES
5 Operate the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in accordance with the 'Brand Standard'. Operate the nationally agreed 6 tier scheme and report on outcomes throughout the year. Participate in an inter authority audit in this area. YES
6 Report results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey through a service PI Report the PI results annually YES
7 Implement a suite of actions to assist businesses to prepare for the Food Information regulations  To create a web page to assist businesses, provide information during inspections and interventions, and signpost YES
8 Train Staff in relation to Allergens All food safety officers to complete FSA online training on allergens YES
9 Participate in Food Safety Week 2014 Take part in promotional activities and visits across the district during food Safety week YES

 Participate in food-sampling programme to include imported foods

Good levels of sampling have been achieved and our targets have been largely met. The target quantity of samples for Bassetlaw is in the region of 110 per year and this is therefore a good performance. It is important that this level of sampling is maintained, as the credits the Authority receives to pay for food sample analysis will be allocated based on these levels. This area of work will be kept under review for the next year to ensure this is maintained for the future. 

Implement UKFSS sampling software to link to FSA & Labs

Bassetlaw has successfully implemented the software and samples going onto our IT system are being entered through UKFSS software. Work to develop and utilise the full potential of this facility is ongoing, but UKFSS is operational within the district. 

Refresh and Publicise the Food Sampling Policy

This has not been completed due to lack of time during the last year and will be carried into next year for completion.

Complete all Food Safety inspections in line with National and Local targets

This was completed as per expectations. 

Operate the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme went live in Bassetlaw on the 31st March 2011 and has now been in operation for just over three years. This is required to be operated to very strict criteria under the Food Standards Agency 'Brand Standard'. To date the scheme is running successfully with very few issues. The numbers of premises within the brands are reported quarterly to councillors via the covalent performance management system and the member's newsletter. This is being incorporated into a reporting PI for the coming year. 

As of 31 March 2015 there were 825 premises within the district that were eligible to be part of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. The scores achieved were;

5 - 662 premises 80.2%
4 - 115 premises 13.9%
3 - 33 premises 4%
2 - 5 premises 0.6%
1 - 10 premises 1.2%
0 - 0 premises 0%

pie chart of the food hygiene ratings in Bassetlaw

 

Thus 98.1% of eligible businesses are in categories 3 - 5 and are deemed to be compliant with food hygiene requirements. The other businesses that are in categories 0 - 2 are subject to close scrutiny to ensure that required improvements are implemented and maintained.

 

Report results of a Customer Satisfaction Survey

An in house satisfaction survey has been implemented across all Environmental Health services. The overall result stands at 89.67% for the entire EH service. The results did not provide any negative concerns in relation to the food safety service.

Food Information Regulations

Training sessions were offered and taken up by local businesses to help prepare for these new regulations. In addition officers have continued to offer advice and guidance as appropriate either upon request and during routine inspections of commercial premises.

Staff Allergen Training

A training session was held for officers within Bassetlaw and wider across Nottinghamshire on the subject of allergens. In addition, online resources from the FSA have been made available to help officers.

Take Part in Food Safety Week 2014

Officers participated in events for food safety week 2014 and will continue to do so for 2015.

Variation from Service Plan 

The only real variation (other than the uptake in coaching discussed above) has been in the non-completion of a new sampling policy. This is an update requirement and was not critical to service delivery and will be carried forward into next year.

A slightly higher number of newly registered premises were not inspected by year end, in comparison to previous years. This has not prevented our meeting our inspection targets overall, but will need to be monitored. This is due to an increased level of inspection and intervention overall, due in some part to the increased level of ‘churn’ within food businesses – that is the amount that open and close throughout the year.

The anticipated benefits from implementing the UKFSS sampling system have yet to be realized due to external software problems and this will remain for next year as an objective to achieve those benefits.

Formal Enforcement Action 2014/2015

Formal Written Warning Letters Hygiene Improvement Notices Voluntary Closure Undertakings Accepted Prosecution
118 6 1 0

Areas of Improvement

The following Objectives have been identified for 2015/16

  Objectives Anticipated Outcome Date of Completion
1 Continue to participate in a food sampling programme to include the required level of imported food samples and ensure sampling credit uptake is met. Take part in National and Regional sampling surveys and also take the requisite number of imported food samples March 2016
2 To link the UK FSS sampling software to external Labs and FSA to enable the Authority to access better data to inform sampling activities and reduce reporting requirements To put all samples through this system and to link for receiving data and providing reports to external organisations March 2016
3 To refresh and the Authorities Sampling Policy. (Carried Forward) Launch a refreshed food sampling policy and launch this with publicity to raise awareness of sampling activities. March 2016
4 To complete all Food Safety Inspections and interventions in line with National and Local targets. A Local PIs is in place to replicate the deleted National PI. This is reported Annually. The target for 2015/16 is 93% Performance levels will continue to be reported through this annual plan as well as internally through ‘Covalent’ to the overview & scrutiny committee March 2016
5 Operate the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in accordance with the ‘Brand Standard’ Operate the nationally agreed 6 tier scheme and report on outcomes throughout the year. Participate in an inter authority audit in this area. March 2016
6 Report results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey through a service PI Report the PI results annually March 2016
7 Participate in Food Safety Week 2015 and other educational / promotional events Take part in promotional activities and visits across the district during food Safety week and other relevant events March 2016
8 Continue the introduction of Food Information Regulations Provision of advice during routine inspections / enforcement of the regulations where appropriate March 2016

Last Updated on Thursday, September 17, 2020