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Official statistics published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) today show that the food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS) is being used more than ever before to assess food hygiene standards.

Reference: https://www.food.gov.uk/

The public attitudes tracker survey monitors changes in consumer attitudes to food-related issues. We survey consumers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The latest results, from May 2019, show the public’s use of hygiene stickers has jumped to 66% compared to 60% in the previous wave from November 2018.

85% of respondents reported being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from. The most commonly reported ways of knowing about hygiene standards were via food hygiene ratings stickers (66%) and the general appearance of the premises (59%).

Angela Towers, Head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the FSA said:

‘The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme gives consumers the information they need to make informed decisions about where they eat out and enables them to vote with their feet.

‘We are pleased to see continuing increased use of the scheme, which further highlights a need to make the information it provides more accessible in England through mandatory display of hygiene ratings.

‘This has been successful in Wales and Northern Ireland and we remain committed to seeing this introduced in England.’

Businesses are given stickers showing their rating for display at their premises – those in England are encouraged to display these while those in Wales and Northern Ireland are required by law to do so.

Ratings are also available to consumers on the FSA’s website.

Other areas covered by the report include:

1. Food issues of concern

The top food safety issues of concern for those surveyed were:

• Food hygiene when eating out (31%)
• Chemicals from the environment, such as lead, in food (30%)
• The use of pesticides to grow food (29%)
• Food poisoning (28%)

The top wider food issues of concern were:

• Food waste (51%)
• The amount of sugar in food (49%)
• Food prices (43%)
• Animal welfare (43%)
• The amount of salt in food (39%)

2. Concern about food safety in UK food outlets

41% of respondents reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways. 37% of respondents reported concern about food safety in UK shops and supermarkets. These statistics indicate a general decline in concern about food safety in UK food outlets.

Awareness of the FSA

At wave 18, questions relating to trust previously included in the FSA’s flagship survey Food and You were moved to the Public Attitudes Tracker to observe levels of trust more regularly. Measures of trust in the FSA and in the food system were developed based on responses to multiple questions. The average score of the composite measure of trust in the FSA was 6.9 out of 10 and the average score for the composite measure of trust in the food system was 3.8 out of 5.

Further findings demonstrate that 78% of respondents reported being aware of the FSA, similar to previous waves. Of those aware of the FSA, 66% trusted the FSA to do its job, and 72% reported that they trust the FSA to tell the truth in the information it provides. Ensuring that food was safe to eat was the main issue respondents (88%) reported the FSA to be responsible for.

Attitudes towards food production, sale and labelling

The majority reported that they trust that food is what it says it is and is accurately labelled (76%) and 76% trusted the authenticity of ingredients/origin/quality of food. Findings also demonstrated that 80% of respondents felt they had enough information about what food contains to make their food choices.

Reference: Article by Katie Coyne

Natasha unknowingly consumed sesame seeds, which she was allergic to, when she ate a Pret a Manger baguette bought at Heathrow Airport. She collapsed on a flight to Nice and died on 17 July 2016.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said legislation for ‘Natasha’s Law’ will be introduced by the end of the summer making it a mandatory requirement for full ingredient labelling for pre-packed foods for direct sale.

To give businesses time to get ready for the changes, the new laws will come into force two years later.

Environment secretary Michael Gove described the teenager’s parents as an inspiration as they have campaigned to make changes to the law to protect food allergy sufferers.

He said: "These changes will make food labels clear and consistent and give the country's two million food allergy sufferers confidence in making safe food choices."

Natasha’s parents Tanya and Nadim said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State has announced the Government's decision to go ahead with full allergen and ingredient labelling.

“While Natasha's Law comes too late to save our beloved daughter, we believe that helping save other allergy sufferers and their families from the enduring agony that we will always bear is a fitting legacy for her life.”

The charity Allergy UK said it was delighted at the news of full ingredient labelling. Its chief executive Carla Jones added: "This move towards full ingredient labelling for pre-packed direct sale food will improve the lives of the allergic customer."

Allergen hygiene should be scored in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and national guidance provided on how allergen responsibilities are split between environmental health and trading standards.

A consistent national approach is needed to help keep consumers with allergies safe, according to Helen Dodds, food and safety manager at Hyndburn Borough Council.

Dodds was part of the EH team that worked alongside the police investigation following the death of Megan Lee. The 15-year-old died following a severe allergic reaction to peanuts after eating a curry from the Royal Spice takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, in 2016.

Since Megan’s death, Hyndburn has worked with Lancashire County Council to increase knowledge around allergen hygiene and cross contamination – which was a particular issue in Megan's case – and implement new systems and resources.

Since April 2017 allergen hygiene has been covered during routine food hygiene interventions, for example. Hyndburn found allergen control issues at a third of interventions and so it developed a free, monthly workshop for caterers. So far this year 350 people have attended it.

But more needs to be done nationally, Dodds said. “I have been involved in a number of best practice days for EH/trading standards officers across the country and I hear time and time again that further clarity is required nationally in relation to allergen hygiene, enforcement and inclusion of allergen hygiene/management as part of the food hygiene rating scheme. There is currently a mixed picture across the country.”

Hyndburn is a two-tier authority with trading standards officers from Lancashire County Council.

Dodds added: “Historically Food Information Regulations were seen as a trading standards area of work. However, due to food hygiene intervention frequencies catering premises are more likely to see an EH officer than a trading standards officer. Also, catering premises are not deemed ‘high risk’ from a trading standards perspective.”

This led the councils to update their joint working arrangements and have new strategies in place to tackle allergen controls in catering premises.

Dodds added: “We have decision trees in place relating to which authority would do what in various circumstances. Trading standards still take a lead role in relation to sampling and labelling issues. Joint approaches are taken in respect of complaints.”

This strategy has been rolled out across Lancashire and Dodds says she is aware of “pockets of good work” in place such as Barnsley and Manchester. However, she argued: “I would like to see this work tied together nationally to provide a consistent approach across the country.”

Ref: Katie Coyne

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Article Reference: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-health-and-social-care

The government’s ‘Every Day Is Different’ campaign will help fill the 110,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector.

A new national recruitment campaign to help fill the 110,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector has launched.

The ‘Every Day Is Different’ campaign will show how rewarding social care careers can be – 96% of care professionals feel their work makes a difference to people’s lives. It will also highlight the opportunities for progression and professional development.

The campaign aims to:

  • attract new people with the right values to the sector and increase interest in adult social care as a vocation
  • highlight the range of job roles, with an initial focus on direct care roles such as care workers, where there is the most demand
  • equip the social care sector with the marketing tools to support the campaign and advice to recruit and retain the right people, to address a high turnover rate.

Over 1.45 million people work in the sector at the moment. It is predicted an additional 650,000 workers will be needed by 2035 to keep up with the rising numbers of people aged 65 and over.

Working in adult social care is about providing personal and practical support to help people live their lives.

People who work in the sector could be supporting the elderly or people with a physical disability, autism, dementia or a mental health condition. This could mean working in:

  • a care or nursing home as a care worker
  • your local community as an activities co-ordinator
  • a hospital as an occupational therapist
  • someone’s home as a personal assistant

The campaign has been developed in close collaboration with the adult social care sector and will run during February and March through social media, digital and local radio advertising, outdoor posters and events across England.

Advertising will feature real care workers and the people they support. The aim is to attract a diverse range of people, but the campaign will have a focus on people aged 20 to 39. Research suggests that this group is the most likely to consider a role in adult social care in the next 12 months.

Adult social care providers will be encouraged to engage with the campaign by providing case studies, advertising their vacancies on DWP Find a Job and promoting social media content using the hashtag #shareifyoucare. Materials will also be available to providers to equip them with information and assets to support the campaign locally.

Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage said:

Adult social care is too often seen as the ‘Cinderella service’ to our NHS. I’m determined to change this perception, starting with our hardworking social care workforce.

There is huge demand for more care professionals who work incredibly hard to look after the most vulnerable people in our society. We must spread the word that careers in adult social care can be rewarding, varied and worthwhile. Care is a vocation where you can transform people’s lives and every day is different to the next.

Our national recruitment campaign will support care providers to recruit thousands more talented people. If you think a career in care could be for you, I urge you to look up the opportunities in your local area and become part of a vital and growing profession.

Sharon Allen, CEO of Skills for Care said:

I have spent my whole career in adult social care, so I know first-hand the tremendous professional and personal satisfaction that is on offer to anyone who joins us through this campaign.

This campaign will help employers find people who have the right personal values that will make them great care workers and that means people in our communities will be supported by highly motivated and skilled workers.

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