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The response of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health to the FSA’s release of interim results of horsemeat testing by the food industry

Publication Date: 15th February 2013

Subject: CIEH

While the CIEH is pleased that the first set of industry results from beef products that have been tested for the presence of horse DNA indicate that there is no risk to human health, it is necessary to recognise that there are over 900 test results outstanding, many of which relate to raw materials and ingredients.

Commenting on the interim results, Tony Lewis, CIEH Head of Policy and Education, said:

“These initial results are to be welcomed but it cannot be underestimated how deeply public trust in our food supply and systems has been eroded.

“The public expect the highest standards of food safety and to ensure this they rely on Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) to provide this protection through inspection, sampling and enforcement. The financial cuts imposed on local government are having a profound impact in some parts of the country with the loss of key staff. It is essential that we have competent, qualified EHPs available to maintain this core service”

“In light of events over the last four weeks it would seem imperative that we look again closely at the relationship between the regulators (FSA and Defra), the regulatory enforcers (EHPs) and the businesses regulated by them to ensure that the consumer’s health interests are paramount.”

Having reflected on all the issues so far The CIEH:

  • believe that even if it is proved criminality is behind the fraudulent adulteration of meat on the market, this does not relieve manufacturers and retailers of their legal duty and responsibility to produce and sell food that is safe and labelled accurately
  • call upon the national and devolved Governments to make good resources lost through budgetary cuts in order that local authorities can investigate suspected wrong-doing through planned and ad hoc food sampling
  • draw attention to the vital work of regulatory enforcement performed by environmental health practitioners (EHPs), port health inspectors (PHIs) and trading standards officers (TSOs) in protecting health while food is in preparation, on sale or in transit
  • warn that the cuts in local government funding are having an increasingly damaging impact on the capability of local authorities to maintain sufficient competent, qualified health professionals ‘on the front line’ and this should be reviewed as a matter of urgency
  • invite a national debate on the plight of the poor and most vulnerable in our society who are especially at risk from the high salt, sugar and saturated fat content associated with many ‘budget’ processed foods

Notes to editors:

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a leading provider of accredited qualifications in health and safety, food safety, environmental protection, fire safety and first aid and operates in 50 countries. Over 10 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification
  • The CIEH’s clients range from small businesses to multinational enterprises like the Intercontinental Hotel Group. We work with governmental bodies in Hong Kong and Chongqing, China as well as international agencies like the United Nations
  • The CIEH’s 60 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are OFQUAL (formerly QCA) accredited and are valued and recognised throughout the world
  • For more information about the CIEH visit www.cieh.org
  • For CIEH media enquiries, please contact Andrew Hamadanian on 020 7827 5922 or 07944 262 100