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Pennington criticises review delay

Corin Williams05/04/2012 - 13:00

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Call for publication of Wales food law review
Call for publication of Wales food law review

Consumer Focus Wales (CFW) has called on the Welsh Government to publish a long-awaited review of food law enforcement commissioned in the wake of the 2005 E. coli outbreak.

In its third report on progress made following the Pennington inquiry, CFW said Wales was ‘still ahead of the game’ compared to other UK countries but warned that a review by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had been delayed by a year.

CFW head of policy Liz Withers said there had been ‘great strides’ taken by the Welsh Government to improve food safety.

She added: ‘But we are disappointed that a year on from our last report, the FSA food law enforcement review, commissioned by the Welsh Government, has yet to be published.

‘It is 12 months overdue – this simply isn’t good enough for consumers in Wales.’

Professor Pennington told EHN: ‘Like Consumer Focus Wales, I am disappointed. However, better that things are done properly, than not at all. My biggest worry after the publication of my report was that it would be warmly received, but then join all the other inquiry reports on the library shelves.

‘I know that local authorities in Wales have done a lot, but CFW has been a very good advocate for the consumer. I hope that it survives the “bonfire of the quangos”.’

The CFW report also called for managers of schools and hospitals to be pressed into action if their premises received a rating score of two or fewer following a food hygiene inspection.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘The FSA has completed its review of food hygiene enforcement including further work commissioned by the first minister. We will take into account the need for greater collaboration across local authorities in considering the Welsh Government response to this review.

‘We will ensure we do all we can to reduce the risk of any future food-related outbreaks. We will publish this work in due course.’

Julie Barratt, director of CIEH Wales, said: ‘We remain committed to delivering on those of the Pennington recommendations, and to that end are working with FSA Wales to deliver practical HACCP validation and verification training for EHPs in the next two months.

‘We are encouraged by the amount that has been done to date and remain committed to working with our partners in Wales to deliver on the remainder of the recommendations.’

Wales health minister Lesley Griffiths also announced the government’s response to a consultation on its plans to introduce a compulsory food hygiene rating scheme, based on the FSA’s system.

In all, nearly 240 food authorities, businesses and consumers made their views known. Ms Griffiths said the majority of respondents were ‘very supportive’.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Our draft Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Bill aims to build on the significant improvements made so far and will make it mandatory for all food outlets to show their rating for food hygiene standards.’

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