Celebrating World Environmental Health Day: the wide remit of a food and safety role

27 September 2023, Carol Archibald CEnvH FCIEH, Manager for Food and Safety, Colchester City Council

The five pillars of Environmental Health

For World Environmental Health Day 2023, we invited members to share their experiences of working in environmental health and what it means to protect public health.

My journey into environmental health

Hi, I am Carol Archibald, a Chartered Fellow of the CIEH, which I achieved just as lockdown arrived. Some of you may know me from the CIEH coffee catch ups for food safety.

I arrived in environmental health and food safety through my career in hotel and catering and then teaching in Further Education. I became a technical officer in 1991 and worked my way through various courses and then the Environmental Health degree. An unbelievably valuable qualification that opens many doors if you choose to walk through them.

My varied role in food and safety

Currently I am the Team Manager for Food and Safety at Colchester City Council where we cover food safety, health and safety, animal licensing and beauty licensing as well as infectious disease work and our public health project TuckIN, making food better.

The remit is quite wide and everything we do has an impact on the health and well-being of our community to protect them from accidents in the workplace to ensuring the food we eat is safe from food poisoning. We rate each business with a zero to five Food Hygiene Rating so the public can view this before they decide where to purchase food from, something I am proud to say I was at the forefront of developing through scores on the doors. It is also number 13 on the top 20 public health achievements of 21st Century.

This week I have accompanied one of my team to conduct oyster sampling. Colchester is renowned for its oysters and the origins of the oysters can be traced back to Roman times. The sampling work is relentless as it must be undertaken at regular periods throughout the year and in all seasons, to keep people safe when they choose to eat raw oysters. This work is completed quietly, and few know of its importance to public health and the activity that we undertake, which is also quite skilled - many samples are taken through the trip for water quality and temperature checks, as well as samples of the oysters, all of which supports the local economy.

This year is the 175th anniversary of the Public Health Act. We have come a long way since then and our job has developed over the years, but every day, and every job we undertake is done to protect everyone's health.

If you would like to learn more about environmental health and becoming an EHP, visit our What is EH? webpage or if you would like to write a blog about your EH experience, please email [email protected].

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