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Inspection Rates Set to Tumble as Food Poisoning Cases Go Up
The Government’s consultation on revisions to the Food Law Code of Practice closes next month with the likely result being that nearly 86,000 premises will have their inspection frequency extended. Food Standards Agency officials have admitted that the move is a matter of financial necessity and it comes at a time when cases of foodborne illness are on the rise.
The cost to the economy from treatment and days off work is thought to be in the region of ?1.6 billion annually with around 500 fatalities each year. The FSA though are convinced that the new scheme will improve targeting of resources saying;? “This change will ensure that local authority resources are focused on premises which are less compliant, and will benefit businesses which do comply. Where a local authority becomes aware of any evidence about poor standards in food premises or public health risks, they can carry out inspections and take swift action to protect public health.” Others however feel that this is a retrograde step that could lead to disaster as Mary Creagh, Labour’s spokesperson on the environment, food and rural affairs, pointed out; “Each year tens of thousands of people fall sick from food poisoning in the UK, and for some it can prove life-threatening. So downgrading these inspections is essentially the Government playing Russian roulette with public health” she said. There will also be concerns amongst already hard pressed Environmental Health staff, as an estimated 14,000 fewer inspections per year could be seen by some Local Authorities as a further excuse for job cuts.?