President's report: May 2022

24 May 2022, Julie Barratt, CIEH President

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As CIEH President I am keen that members should know what I have done to represent them and the organisation, and to that end I will be providing updates after every Trustee Board meeting outlining what I have done. 

For consistency I will report under the three headings of media engagement, profile and policy and member engagement. This report covers the period 1 December 2021 to 18 May 2022.

Media engagement

On 16 December 2021 I was interviewed by BBC 3 Counties Radio to discuss the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and food hygiene issues generally. The discussion was wide ranging and allowed me to highlight the great work Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have done during COVID working with food businesses to help them operate safely.

I provided comment for BBC Wales regarding the impact of the war in Ukraine on the supply of sunflower oil and particularly on the risks to people with nut allergies that might present if sunflower oil is substituted for nut oils in prepared foods.

I have continued to use the @CIEH_President Twitter feed to promote the work of EHPs and of CIEH. This continues to be a useful mechanism for engaging with other stakeholders as well as with CIEH members.

Profile and policy

On 15 February 2022 an article I had supported in Food Safety News about cannabis edibles and the potential risk posed by them was published. This caused comment on Twitter and gave rise to a number of other press inquiries, and I provided further statements following subsequent press inquiries. It continues to be an issue which engages the media, particularly as it allows us to comment further on the uncontrolled sale of food items (and counterfeit goods generally) on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace.

Also in February I was able to work with Chris Choi, Consumer Editor at ITV News and speaker at the CIEH Year Ahead Conference 2019, to arrange for a number of local authorities to undertake food hygiene vignettes for ITV News. This is planned as part of a series of vignettes highlighting the work of EHPs and is seen as a good opportunity to raise our profile and highlight the value of the work we do.

On 21 February I took part in a ‘Break the Bias’ Presidents panel for OneWISH, a global coalition for Women and Inclusion in Safety and Health, pre-recorded for International Women’s Day 2022. Six female Presidents of professional bodies were interviewed about their careers, what had encouraged them and how they had dealt with issues that arose during their careers. It was very well received in the UK, the US and Canada, where the organisations of the other participants are based.

Member engagement

On 20 January I attended a graduation ceremony at the University of Birmingham for successful candidates on the Food Programme, making the congratulatory speech and presenting tokens to the candidates on behalf of the university. This was only my second face to face event since taking up the Presidency in January 2019, which made it particularly special.

On two occasions I was able to speak to students about the role and function of CIEH. I spoke to students at Middlesex University on 16 February and on 22 February I was pleased to support the Apprenticeship Recruitment session at Epsom and Ewell District Council to talk about the importance of the role of EHPs and how CIEH can support them.

I was on the panel at the CIEH Meet the Leaders coffee and catch up online session on 16 February, taking questions and answering points raised by members.

On the international front I provided an article outlining what CIEH is doing for the Environmental Health Australia (EHA) Member Newsletter in February and on 10 February I attended a virtual meeting of the Zambian Environmental Health Association to speak about registration and the mentoring scheme.

In a lighter vein I launched the second CIEH President’s Challenge, which commenced on 1 March as a virtual walk around the Wales Coast Path, supporting the Trussell Trust and continued to support the first challenge, which finished on 28 March 2022.

As the restrictions associated with the pandemic start to loosen, I have been asked to attend a number of face to face events, which of course I am delighted to be able to do. I’m very much looking forward to meeting members ‘in real life’, but happy to continue to respond to questions - if you want to raise anything with me, please drop me an email.

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