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Food Sampling

 What food sampling is carried out by Pembrokeshire County Council?

The Authority operates three separate food sampling programmes:

  • Food samples for microbiological surveillance - e.g. to satisfy local/ national sampling commitments and to ensure business' HACCP systems are operating effectively.
  • Food standards sampling - checking the labelling and composition of food
  • Shellfish sampling

In addition, further food samples may be taken following a complaint or for enforcement purposes.

All food sampling is conducted in accordance with Food Safety Act Code of Practice, Practice Guidance and relevant sampling protocols.

What food samples are taken for microbiological surveillance?

The microbiological examination of food is carried out by the Food Examiner at the NPHW Laboratory, Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen.

Each year the Authority draft a Microbiological Food sampling Programme. The contents of the Programme is dependent on any local sampling priorities identified but is primarily focussed on sampling foods made by local food manufacturers approved under European Legislation (ie Regulation EC (No) 853/2004) which lays down specific requirements for businesses who manufacture foods containing products of animal origin. This includes dairy premises and premises making dairy products such as cheese, and premises manufacturing meat or fishery products. These types of establishment may make cooked hams or meat pies, or they may process crabs/ lobsters or smoke fish etc.

In addition when setting the microbiological food sampling programme, the Authority has regard to surveys organized by the Welsh Food Microbiological Forum (WFMF). This Forum constitutes members from each of the Local Authorities in Wales and decides co-ordinated targetted surveys for Local Authorities, based on issues where there has either been a known or perceived hazard associated with different food types. These surveys are then collated on an All Wales basis and reports are compiled to determine whether the targetted survey has identified any issues.

Bacteriological samples are interpreted in accordance with EC Regulation 2073/2005 on the Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs or Health Protection Agency Guidelines for ready to eat foods as appropriate. Unsatisfactory/unacceptable samples will be followed up by investigation of possible reasons for failure, often including a further visit to the premises and repeated sampling. Generally, around 10% of samples are found to be unsatisfactory/unacceptable, and these principally relate to high total aerobic colony counts rather than to the presence of pathogens.

What samples are taken to check the composition and labelling of foods?

The analysis of food, to ascertain whether foodstuffs comply with current compositional and labelling requirements, is carried out by the Authority's appointed Public Analyst, Public Analyst Scientific Services in Wolverhampton.

The Food Team carries out routine sampling and also sampling of complaint samples. In general, complaint items will only be sent for analysis/examination where formal action might be contemplated.

The sampling program  concentrates on areas where we believe there may be problems, but also checks   Pembrokeshire manufacturers and other suppliers . 

Food that may be checked include:

  • Meat products for meat content and species
  • Fresh and frozen chicken for added water and species
  • Kebabs for species
  • Vegetarian meals for meat
  • Spring water for chemical analysis
  • Dairy icecream for milk and vegetabel fats
  • Drinks making health and nutrition claims for illegal claims and nutirtional analysis
  • Cakes, bars and jams making "no added sugar" claims for composition
  • Soft drinks for excessive colours, preservatives and sweeteners
  • Dried fruit  and nuts for mycotoxins
  • Imported fruit  and vegetables for pesticides
  • Products containing almonds or peanut
  • Poultry and eggs for veterinary residues
  • Beers and ciders for mycotoxins and ABV ( alcoholic strength)

Where foods fail to comply with legal standards follow up visits will be made to investigate possible reasons for failure, and the premises will be targeted during subsequent programmes.

If significant fraud, safety issues or consumer prejudice are suspected, formal action may be taken. Typically around 10% of targeted samples do not to conform to set standards,and these are often where the labelling does not reflect the true composition of food.


ID: 19529 Revised: 8/12/2015

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