Agenda item

Environmental Health - Food Safety

To receive a presentation from officers within the Health and Safety service on working arrangements and local emerging issues within the food safety service and upon standards of food safety within the Borough.



The Panel welcomed Mr. Colin Alborough, Environmental Health Manager, who gave a presentation on the food safety service working arrangements and food safety standards in the Borough.


Mr Alborough advised of the purpose and main areas of work for the team. Their purpose was “to ensure that food and drink on sale for human consumption, which was produced, stored, handled and consumed in the Borough was without risk to the health and safety of the consumer.” The work involved carrying out the statutory, regulatory service as described by the Food Standards Agency Framework Agreement and the Food Law Code of Practice. Day to day work involved inspecting and rating businesses, supporting new businesses, responding to statutory notifications, acting as the Primary Authority for the British Army, and linking to the wider public health agenda.


It was advised that the work of the team complemented the Council Plan through a number of areas, in particular:


  • Sustaining a thriving economy and boosting local business - through the provision of consultancy services to local businesses. The Council charged businesses £57 per hour (full cost recovery) for this service which allowed businesses to work with officers to drive standards of food safety up.


  • Supporting and empowering our communities and meeting local need – through the initiation of an optional food hygiene re-rating scheme, at a cost of £170 for three hours. It was noted that, in the majority of cases, those that had chosen to be re-rated had improved their Food Hygiene Rating.


  • A cleaner greener and more cultural Rushmoor – out on the street assessing the situation and intervening during interventions and in response to service requests.


  • Financially sound with services fit for the future – A service plan was produced and presented to the Licensing and General Purposes Committee on an annual basis. Benchmarking was carried out to ensure costs for services were sustainable and an inter authority audit process was in place, in which the Rushmoor service had been found “compliant”.


It was advised that the displaying of the Food Hygiene Rating certificate was not compulsory in England. However in Scotland it was mandatory and in Wales it would soon become mandatory to display the certificate. An app was available called “scores on the doors” to check the rating of local establishments anywhere in the country. The Panel reviewed a slide which showed a graph of the different ratings up to March 2015, a request was made for an updated version to be circulated to the Panel.


The Panel was shown a number of issues that the team faced in 0/1 rated businesses. These include: cross contamination of food types, cockroach infestations, poorly maintained equipment and evidence of rodent activity. The Panel was advised that appropriate enforcement action would be taken in each case in line with the Council’s Enforcement Policy.


The team received about 550 service requests a year and were the frontline point of contact for both residents and businesses. Service requests included requests from new businesses for help setting up, complaints about food and food premises, food alerts (including mislabelling), and notifications of infectious diseases.


The Panel was informed that, going forward, the Service would continue to support customers and develop cost recovery and income generation. Work would also continue to remain fit for purpose, ensure appropriate responses to emerging issues, keep pace with regulatory reviews and keep relevant to changing times.


A discussion was held during which a number of issues were raised, these included;


  • A request to the FSA to shorten the time for businesses to make an appeal, currently 21 days, against a re-rating scoring.
  • A suggestion to create a system that recognised the “best of the best” in the Borough, in addition to the FSA Food Hygiene Ratings.
  • The harvesting of watercress from the Cove Brook by individuals from the Nepalese community. It was advised that the water in the brook may not be safe for consumption and the vegetation being collected probably was not watercress. It was suggested that a warning could be broadcast on the Gurkha Radio. Mr. Alborough agreed to prepare a poster for use by Cllr Staplehurst and Cllr Crawford offered to liaise with the BGWS.


In response to a query it was advised that all larger companies that sold/prepared food were inspected. If a company changed hands the new owners were obliged to inform the Council and an inspection would be carried out within 28 days.


The Panel AGREED


Action to be taken


By Whom


To provide updated information on the FSA Food Hygiene ratings to include 2016 and 2017.


Mr. Colin Alborough, Environmental Health Manager

Week commencing 19.06.17

To prepare a warning notice to the Nepalese community regarding the harvesting of watercress from the Cove Brook.


Mr. Colin Alborough, Environmental Health Manager and Cllr Mark Staplehurst.

Week Commencing 19.06.17


The Chairman thanked Mr. Alborough for his presentation.