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Gravesham Borough Council Food Sampling Policy Statement

Gravesham Borough Council will comply with all relevant UK and EU legislation to ensure food within the district is sampled. Gravesham Borough Council views food sampling as an important aspect of its duty to protect Public Health and comply with its enforcement responsibilities relating to food law. Each year a food sampling policy and programme will be produced and published and will be available to local businesses and consumers. This will outline general sampling strategy and approach relating to specific local situations.

Sampling within the district will be carried out in accordance with this policy and programme and will follow a set of documented procedures. These procedures are presently contained in the Kent Food Sampling Protocol for microbiological sampling, which is regularly updated to reflect new guidance and the government Food Law Code of Practice and Guidance (England), and in particular Chapter 6 Sampling and Analysis.

Sampling within the district will be carried out in accordance with this policy and programme and will follow a set of documented procedures. These procedures are presently contained in the Kent Food Sampling Protocol for microbiological sampling, which is regularly updated to reflect new guidance and the government Food Law Code of Practice and Guidance (England), and in particular Chapter 6 Sampling and Analysis.

The Council has appointed the Lead Public Health Microbiologist for Public Health England based at Food, Water & Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Colindale (or one of his appointed Food Examiners) as Food Examiner and Kent Scientific Services as Public Analyst.

The Council aims to participate in all European Union Co-ordinated Food Control Programmes organised nationally through the Food Standards Agency, LACORS and the Public Health England which are relevant to the needs of the local food businesses. The Authority will also participate in programmes organised by the CIEH Kent Food Technical Group and the Food Sampling SubGroup, as agreed by the Kent Environmental Health Managers Group.

Locally, the Council will target sampling at food businesses which score poorly on the national food hygiene rating scheme, on manufacturers and processors, particularly those for which they act as "Home" or "Originating" Authority and which distribute foods outside the area. Food sampling and swabbing of food premises will also be an integral part of food hygiene inspections to help assess hygiene standards and processes. Food sampling will also be used as an important tool when appropriate in the investigation of food complaints and food poisoning incidents.

Central government funding for microbiological food and water samples is allocated by the PHE directly to the Council. Gravesham Borough Council will ensure that a minimum of 106 samples are taken during the year, this being the figure based on a sample rate of 1 per 1000 head of population. Financial provision of £4,863 for sampling has been allocated for the current year by the Public Health England to support this and the additional work deemed appropriate.

Within the Authority, Gravesham Borough Council is committed to carrying out a targeted sampling programme in respect of local food manufacturers of high-risk items; this includes dairy and meat products establishments. Imported foods will also be included within our sampling programme both proactively and as required on complaint/investigation.

Officers carrying out food sampling will ensure that they co-ordinate activities with colleagues in other Food Authorities and working in related professions such as Trading Standards, Environment Agency, etc. to prevent duplication of work and share relevant results and findings.

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