Import inspections go nationwide

INSPECTION methods pioneered by food experts at Felixstowe port are going to be used at other import checking points all over the country.The Suffolk Coastal council-run port health service was given a pat on the back during a top-level analysis of its work.

INSPECTION methods pioneered by food experts at Felixstowe port are going to be used at other import checking points all over the country.

The Suffolk Coastal council-run port health service was given a pat on the back during a top-level analysis of its work.

The service monitors food imported from all over the world and works to ensure that when those products reach the country's supermarket shelves they are safe for people to buy.

The provisional findings of the inspection of the service found it is providing "a very high standard" with examples of best practice that will now be shared around the country.

A team of three auditors from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), led by Yvonne Robinson, completed a detailed two-day audit of imported food controls, checking documents, interviewing staff, and inspecting policies, procedures, training and the effectiveness of its service.

The FSA is carrying out audits on enforcement of imported food controls as part of its Step Change programme.

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Following a Cabinet Office study into the organisation of controls of imports of animals, fish, plants and their products, the agency was asked to take forward a project to improve the co-ordination of local authority inspection of foods and products of non-animal origin.

"The audit team identified a number of areas of best practice developed by port health officers at Felixstowe which they will be taking away to share with other Port Health authorities," said Patricia O'Brien, cabinet member for community well-being.

"This is excellent news and is deserved recognition of the efforts of our port health employees to protect public health in this district and the rest of the country."

A report on the findings of the audit will be given to Suffolk Coastal and the council will produce an action plan to meet its recommendations. Once this has been agreed, the report and action plan will be available on the FSA website.

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