East Riding of Yorkshire Council is the most active council in the UK when it comes to clamping down on dangerous food and drink.
The council carried out the highest number of samples, sending most of them to laboratories for microbiological examination, with 225 samples being sent to the Public Analyst.
Most were found to be satisfactory but of the rest, one case led to the closure of a factory in the London area after it supplied sandwiches to a newsagents shop in the East Riding.
A sandwich sampled by the council’s food safety team contained the pathogen listeria monocytogenes which can give rise to listeriosis, a potentially fatal condition that can cause stillbirths in pregnant women and severe illness in the elderly and young.
The council passed the information to the London authority resulting in the factory being served with an Emergency Prohibition Notice to stop further production.
There are about 3,700 food and drink outlets, such as bars, takeaways, restaurants, shops and stores across the East Riding, including 970 in the Bridlington and Driffield area, 1,022 in the Beverley area, 790 in South Holderness and 1,000 in the Goole, Pocklington and Market Weighton areas.
Councillor Jackie Cracknell, portfolio holder for community involvement and performance, said: “For many years this council has been a leading authority in sampling food businesses to ensure that what they are doing is safe and meets legal standards.
“Fortunately, most samples show no cause for concern but there is no room for complacency as we all know what can happen if just one business is tempted to take short cuts.
“We are proud of our record in looking after public health. Even in times of tight budgets we intend to maintain this service to a high level, taking action where the public is put at risk of illness or fraudulent activity.”
Another example of the council’s successful sampling resulted in both the food business operator and the licensee of an East Riding restaurant pleading guilty to offences of supplying fake Smirnoff vodka. The Smirnoff had been substituted with a cheaper, inferior product.
Paul Bellotti, the council’s head of housing, transportation and public protection, said: “The team’s current sampling includes meat and fish speciation testing, allergen testing, microbiological, and spirit authenticity testing.
“Much of the sampling undertaken is ongoing routine sampling, but we also work in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency on a regular basis to sample specific products where issues may have been found elsewhere in the UK or Europe.
“A year ago, for example, we worked with the FSA sampling meat products for horse DNA. The team took samples of processed meat products on sale in the East Riding and all were found to be negative for horse DNA. Further sampling for meat speciation in conjunction with the FSA is continuing this year.”
Data recently released by the Food Standards Agency shows that over the period 2012/13 East Riding of Yorkshire Council had the highest level of sampling activity of all the UK authorities.
The figures released by the FSA follow the recent ‘Which’ report that classified the council’s services team as best in the region. Over a number of years the council has been successful in securing additional grant funding from the FSA to sustain the levels of sampling.