Dudley Council’s latest food hygiene plan shows that priority inspections have still been carried out despite the impact of the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, the Food Standards Agency suspended the routine programme of food inspections for a period of six months, with teams focussing only on high risk situations.
Previously, in 2019/20 the team managed to inspect 96% of high risk food premises (Category A-C) and 97% of lower risk premises (Category D-E), a total of 1,175 inspections. Work in previous years had also brought the backlog of lower risk category D & E inspections to just 38 by March 2020, the time when the programme was suspended.
This put the service with the lowest ever number of inspections rolled over and placed the service at some advantage in recovering the inspections due in the next two years.
When the suspension hit in March 2020 198 high risk food hygiene/safety inspections were still carried out of which 77 were inspections due and 121 were inspections of newly registered businesses. In addition, 682 food premises received remote interventions and support. A remarkable achievement considering 50% of food officers were temporarily redeployed to support the covid effort.
The team has also committed to supporting the Dudley Covid-19 Local Outbreak Management Plan as it returns to business as usual. The FSA’s national Recovery Plan has already begun to be implemented, with the local authority’s own plan exceeding those requirements. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:
"The team has done a remarkable job of supporting with essential covid activity while continuing to focus on the most high risk premises. They’d managed to clear a significant backlog of inspection shortly before the pandemic hit.
"This puts us in a stronger position for picking up that additional work and helping to keep businesses compliant and able to trade while also keeping consumers safe."
People can check details of compliance with the regulations at ratings.food.gov.uk and feel assured that they have the most up to date information before making a purchase.