Thursday, September 23, 2010
FSA, Not Toothless, But Spineless
What the FSA, and their enforcement troops the Environmental Health Officers are really great at doing though is covering their own backs. They don't ever issue a direct, unequivocal guideline or straight down the line piece of advice, they must be trained to use mealy mouthed expressions like "we recommend" or "it might be best if" when talking to caterers.
A few years ago I attended a hygiene training course about risks and risk assessment, a lot of the chefs and managers on the course found the lack of absolute policy on the course frustrating. One of the sessions was an open Q&A session with two Environmental Health Officers, for an hour they were bombarded with questions and what we most wanted to know was absolutes. The EHO's were asked over and over again questions like "how many times a day must we perform temperature checks on our fridges ?" and over and over again the EHO's wriggled and squirmed and refused and gave answers like "well you must do them enough times so that you are sure in your own mind that sufficient care has been taken."
It isn't fair for an EHO with degree level training to be telling a cook with a Stage 1 hygiene certificate that the cook bears all the responsibility without giving them the answers they need. The EHO/FSA should tell people what must be done, if we are told that temperature checks must be carried out 4 times a day, then we would all know and understand what the minimum requirement is, and we would know when we were falling short of it.