Port experts on European tour

EXPERTS from the team at Felixstowe port which monitors imported food have been on a European tour sharing their knowledge with other countries.Staff at the Suffolk Coastal council-run service have been in demand at home and abroad sharing the methods they use every day.

EXPERTS from the team at Felixstowe port which monitors imported food have been on a European tour sharing their knowledge with other countries.

Staff at the Suffolk Coastal council-run service have been in demand at home and abroad sharing the methods they use every day.

One-third of all the country's imported food goes through the port, arriving from over 140 countries – including fruits, beverages, vegetables and cereals destined for our supermarket shelves.

Port health service manager Richard Jacobs was selected by the European Union (EU) as a national expert to lead a four-day review mission to Bulgaria.


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Bulgaria is hoping to join the EU in 2007 and the object of the mission was to assess its import control mechanisms and compare it to the EU standards.

Mr Jacobs also provided advice and guidance on import controls of products not of animal origin to the Bulgarian Ministry of Health to enable them to develop the required EU standards.

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Since then he has been invited by the EU to register as a standing national expert to undertake further reviews in other countries.

Martyn Jones, port health service manager, gave a presentation to the EU in Brussels concerning the practical aspects of the Contaminants in Food legislation enforcement at ports.

Kirsty Dawes, port health officer, has been on secondment for 12 months to the Association of Port Health Authorities – a national body that works to ensure consistency at port health authorities.

She has been instrumental in ensuring the Step Change programme developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been implemented within the U.K.

Simon Rowell, senior official veterinary surgeon, has represented the EU on missions to Romania and Bulgaria.

His expertise is on animal products and he was asked to give advice and find out progress being made by the countries in changing import controls on animal products to bring them in line with EU requirements.

Meanwhile, Lynda Noddings, official veterinary surgeon, has taken up the appointment of veterinary specialist member on the FSA's imported foods advisory committee.

"The port health team is gaining international recognition for its expertise and the depth of its contribution to national and international import controls," said Patricia O'Brien, cabinet member for community well-being.

"Suffolk Coastal has always been committed to providing quality services and it is good to see this quality being recognised and utilised to the benefit of our residents, the rest of the country and our European partners.

"We hope that we will win our argument that the costs of this vital national resource should be fully funded by the food importers, rather than part of the costs being met by local council taxpayers."

In 2003 over 95,000 consignments of food products of non-animal origin alone were imported through Felixstowe, of which nearly 14,000 were checked by the port health team, with 82 rejected.

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