Food law enforcement plan
Food Law Enforcement Service Plan 2022-23
We the undersigned endorse this Plan on behalf of Pembrokeshire County Council
Dr Steven Jones
Director of Community Services
Date: 31st August 2022
Councillor Michelle Bateman
Cabinet Member for Housing Operations and Regulatory Services
Date: 31st August 2022
Service aims, objectives, linkages and national context and direction
1.1 Aims and Objectives
Food safety and standards enforcement is provided by the Public Protection Division of Pembrokeshire County Council. This is the first Food Law Enforcement Service Plan to have been prepared since the Covid pandemic started in early 2020. Many routine services and proactive work such as food law inspections were suspended across the Country in line with Food Standards Agency guidance, as the Country entered the various lockdowns that occurred during the pandemic. The effect of suspending routine work was to enable Environmental Health staff involved with the undertaking of Food Law enforcement to be involved with their wider Public Health role in assisting the Council to mitigate risks of transmission of Covid-19 across our Communities through the provision of advice and enforcement of the controls to prevent transmission, to deal with clusters and significant cases of covid infection, and to be deployed into Infection Prevention and Control activities, in line with the Pembrokeshire County Council Business Continuity Plan. Further information on the achievements made against these objectives is set out later in this Plan.
1.2 Specific Aims of the Food Safety and Standards Service
The specific aims of the Food Safety and Standards Team are:
- To ensure that food produced, sold or supplied within Pembrokeshire is safe and wholesome; produced under hygienic conditions; of an acceptable quality and composition; and suitably labelled and advertised, so as to protect the health of the public and the rights/expectations of consumers.
- To investigate cases and outbreaks of food poisoning and other food related infectious disease linked to food business operations, to identify the source of infection, where possible; to prevent further spread; and, to raise awareness in general of routes of transmission and methods of prevention, with the aim of reducing the incidence of related illness within the local community. From the start of 2017-18, responsibility for following up initial notifications or allegations of infectious disease (including possible food poisoning), and for leading on infectious disease control in general, were transferred to the Section’s Health and Safety Team.
These aims are pursued in accordance with relevant food law, the Food Standards Agency’s “Framework Agreement on Official Controls for Food and Feed Controls by Local authorities”, and Food Law Code of Practice (Wales) by:
- Developing an annual Food Law Service Plan,
- Discharging the statutory functions of the Council with respect to the registration of food premises, and the approval of certain food premises under product specific legislation (predominantly milk products, meat products and fishery products establishments).
- Carrying out a range of programmed activities including the inspection of premises and sampling of food products, taking follow-up action as necessary, in accordance with published enforcement policies, to ensure that identified breaches of legislation are rectified.
- Administering the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for food businesses.
- Investigating complaints concerning food safety and food standards.
- Following up sporadic cases and outbreaks food poisoning, where there are potential links to food businesses
- Taking appropriate action in response to zoonoses notifications.
- Taking enforcement action that is proportionate, transparent, consistent and targeted, in line with the Food Safety Act Code of Practice and Practice Guidance, Food Standards Agency advice and guidance, and relevant internal enforcement policies.
- Providing information and advice on matters relevant to food safety and standards. In particular, the Team will endeavour to increase the knowledge and understanding of business operators and promote good practice.
- Committing resources to promotional and educational campaigns, having regard to the Food Standards Agency’s strategic aims and local needs.
- Liaising with relevant bodies over issues of enforcement and consistency.
- Ensuring that our staff are appropriately qualified, possess suitable technical and professional skills, and are competent to perform the duties expected.
- Monitoring the implementation of our procedures to ensure that service standards are maintained and where appropriate improved.
1.3 Links with the Well Being Plan for Pembrokeshire and the Pembrokeshire County Council Corporate Plan (2020-21)
The Service links to a number of priorities set out in the Well Being Plan for Pembrokeshire that frames public, private and voluntary sector activity in Pembrokeshire over the period 2018-2030. The Plan is overseen by a multi-agency partnership (Public Service Board) that seeks to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Pembrokeshire, and is aligned with the seven national wellbeing goals set out in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015. The Pembrokeshire County Council Corporate Plan is an annual, forward looking plan which identifies our Wellbeing Objectives, listing the actions the Council will be taking during the year to which it relates and setting out the performance measures and standards used to measure our progress. The Corporate Plan is our principal plan. It is published at the beginning of each financial year once it has been approved by Council, and the vision which underpins it is “Working together, improving lives”.
In particular, these are:
- Aprosperous Wales (WBP Goal)
- Support the right environment for businesses to grown and to assist secure and sustainable employment (corporate and well-being objective)
We are committed to ensuring that ‘successful businesses grow, prosper and employ’, with a particular emphasis on two headline actions:
- Promoting and supporting start-up, small and medium sized enterprises.
- Providing support to the food, tourism and agricultural sectors.
We will look to achieve this through a range of measures including:
- ensuring the provision of safe food from clean, hygienic premises, thereby creating confidence in local food businesses and promoting tourism;
- proactively providing advice on legal compliance and good practice to help maintain and develop food businesses, and
- targeting enforcement at the poorest performing food businesses that are seen to ‘cut corners’, to ensure that well run businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage.
- A Healthier Wales (WBP goal)
We are committed to ensuring that ‘People in Pembrokeshire are Healthier’, with a particular emphasis on the priority of ‘Helping and supporting people to take responsibility to improve their health and well-being throughout their lives’ and on the ‘headline action’ of ‘Reducing levels of obesity by promoting healthy and active living across all ages’.
The Food Safety and Standards Team contributes to the above objectives by ensuring that food businesses make available required information on food products. This ensures that consumers understand how to prepare and store foods safely, enables them to make informed choices about which food products to purchase in order to maintain a healthy balanced diet, and to avoid ingredients for which they have particular intolerance or sensitivity.
1.4 The Medium Term Financial Plan (2021-2022 – 2024-25)
The Service is also committed to this cross cutting plan which is a live document and underpins all the objectives in the Corporate Plan. Changes are being implemented in order to improve efficiency and service delivery whilst meeting future financial challenges. In particular, we will:
- seek to maximise income where other service priorities such as the recovery from Covid-19 allow, whilst also driving up levels of compliance through:
- the continuation of the Primary Authority program where capacity permits,
- the take-up of all grant monies available from the Food Standards Agency
- the continued promotion of the Team’s paid advisory service where capacity permits
- continued promotion of paid revisits for rescore
- implement identified financial reductions and continue to make efficiency savings by :
- maximising the use of the Pembrokeshire County Council website and electronic communication,
- continuing to reduce mileage as much as possible through use of agile/hybrid working, clustering of inspections by area, and triaging low risk complaints which are dealt with by phone or at next inspection.
- use of electronic inspection forms and “verification” checks to replace inspections where a full inspection is not deemed necessary, where possible under the FSA Recovery Plan