IntroductionThis EH and why it is an important
IntroductionThis report will explore the concept of food safety within environmental health (EH). Attention will be focused on explaining the concept of food safety, how it is used in EH, where it is used in EH and why it is an important concept in EH. As stated by the (CIEH, 2016) the safety, quality and nutritional value of the food we eat is of fundamental importance to our health and wellbeing. Food safety and nutrition are therefore key concerns for the environmental health profession. When people think about EH and the work that EHP’s do, one of the most common images that comes into their minds is that of the food inspector. Environmental health professionals not only work to ensure that the food we eat is safe and of good quality but also to improve housing conditions, to safeguard standards of workplace health and safety, and to create a better environment.Food SafetyFood hygiene is “The measures and conditions necessary to control hazards and to ensure fitness for human consumption of a food stuff taking into account its intended use.” (EU Regulation 852/2004)Foodborne diseases take a major toll on health, with millions of Europeans estimated to fall ill and many dying every year as a result of eating or handling unsafe food.” (WHO, 2016). To reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses The Food Standards Agency works in partnership with the food industry on a campylobacter risk management programme to reduce levels of campylobacter in chicken.The agency manage the Listeria Risk Management Programme and monitor trends in foodborne disease caused by key pathogens. It is estimated that there are over 1 million cases of food poisoning in the UK. Campylobacter bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning.How is it used in EH?EHP’s deal with food safety by; the Inspection of food premises, investigation of food complaints and investigation of food poisoning incidents.The FSA provides guidance and advice for caterers and retailers to help provide safer food for customers including safe catering, the ‘Safer food, better business’ pack and food hygiene legislation guidance. Environmental health practitioners are given a number of powers that they can use when they need to enforce the law such as; the right of entry, power to take unfit food, power to serve legal notices and the power to prosecute. Online (bromley.gov.uk accessed 6-1-18).In addition to their formal powers EHP’s are involved in the Food Hygiene Rating System (FHRS). This was introduced by the FSA to allow the public to make an informed decision on where to eat. Through inspections by local authorities, a score of zero to five (five being the highest score) is generated based on standards of hygienic food handling, cleanliness of facilities and management of food safety. These scores are then available to the public, through display stickers (figure 4) and online (FSA, 2017). The FSA also runs consumer awareness campaigns to help promote good food hygiene in business and at home, e.g. Food Safety Week.Where can it be found in EH?Any business that serves food must comply with the food safety law and regulations. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK. They work with local authorities to enforce regulations and have produced tools to communicate with businesses and the public. The FSA website provides up to date, unbiased advice/information for consumers on a range of food safety issues. Their advice/ information is based on research projects and surveys that they commission. The agency also provides food safety advice for schools and childminders, those starting a food business and those importing food. There are numerous requirements for food businesses – one is that they must be approved or registered. Food premises are to be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition. Furthermore, the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 requires food to be marked or labelled with certain requirements such as:the name of the food a list of ingredients (including food allergens) the amount of an ingredient which is named or associated with the food an appropriate durability indication (e.g. ‘best before’ or ‘use by’) any special storage conditions or instructions for use the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or retailer the place of origin (where failure to do so might mislead)Why is it Important?Food safety is important to protect the public health against: food borne diseases, the adulteration of food and misrepresentation of food.Food poisoning is an illness that usually results in vomiting and diarrhoea after a person eats or drinks fluids contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals (toxins). There are a range of food poisoning bacteria that commonly cause illness in the UK such as campylobacter, salmonella, listeria etc. Changes in consumer eating patterns, lifestyles, beliefs and work has lead to an increase in the number of reported food poisoning cases in Northern Ireland and the UK. Also a lack of education on the consumer behalf can lead to more cases of food poisoning. Food can become contaminated at any stage during its production, processing or cooking. For example, you can get food poisoning by:not cooking food thoroughly (particularly poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs) not storing food that needs to be chilled at below 5°C correctly keeping cooked food unrefrigerated for more than an hour eating food that has been touched by someone who is ill with diarrhoea and vomiting cross-contamination (the spread of bacteria, such as E. coli, from contaminated foods) Infections caused by contaminated food have a much higher impact on populations with poor health status and can lead to serious illness. For infants, pregnant women, the elderly and the sick, the consequences of foodborne illnesses are usually more severe. (WHO 2016a)Mislabelled processed meat products have been discovered in the UK for example, a few years ago there was the horse meat scandal, as it was being sold as beef products. The reason behind this fraud was for companies like Tescos to save and earn more money.Food products with traffic light labels on the front of the pack show you at a glance if the food you are thinking about buying has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, helping you get a better balance. In addition to traffic light colours you will also see the number of grams of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt in what the manufacturer or retailer suggests as a ‘serving’ of the food. (Grunert, 2005) believes that this may be based on unrealistic assumptions about consumers’ willingness and ability to process information when making daily purchases. This suggests that the current labelling system may be ineffective due to the public misinterpreting or disregarding the information displayed. The FSA is continuing to encourage as many supermarkets, manufacturers and service providers as possible to use this approach. ConclusionOverall, food safety is a key concept within Environmental Health. It is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about EH and EHP’s. Food is an essential part of life but if contaminated can cause severe illness and in extreme cases can even cause death. Therefore it is extremely important for an EHP to be aware of these cases in order to protect the public’s health.