Evaluation of FSA Guidance on Cross Contamination

Funded by: Food Standards Agency

Duration:

January 2012 to December 2012

Research project leader(s) at PSI


Deborah Smeaton

Background, summary and aims

Background

Food safety and protecting the public against food-borne illness remains a key priority for public-health policy in the UK. Overall responsibility for food standards and compliance lies with the Food Standards Agency. To increase compliance with legal requirements, one aspect of the Agency’s work is to develop and disseminate appropriate and accessible advice and guidance on food safety and hygiene to food-business operators.

In response to outbreaks of E Coli 0157 in 1995 (Scotland) and 2005 (Wales) and the subsequent 2009 Pennington report, a Food Hygiene Delivery Programme (FHDP) was established, comprising 14 inter-linked projects. One strand of FHDP has focused on developing guidance to help food businesses reduce the risk of cross-contamination from E coli 0157. Introduced in February 2011, the guidance (including a factsheet and DVD for butchers) covers four principal control measures:

  • separation of equipment and staff involved in handling raw food from staff that handle ready-to-eat food;
  • cleaning and disinfection;
  • personal hygiene and handling practices;
  • management of controls (documenting procedures, record keeping, training and supervision).

The Food Standards Agency has commissioned the Policy Studies Institute to conduct an evaluation of the E Coli 0157 prevention guidance.

Aims

The evaluation is designed to investigate: how the guidance has been disseminated; how implementation is monitored; problems associated with understanding the content of the guidance; how well the E Coli guidance is integrated with other food safety schemes; key obstacles encountered in compliance; how the guidance might be improved and the impact of the guidance on food-business practice/culture.

Methods

In order to meet the aims and objectives set out above, the research will consist of four phases to include;

  • A short scoping phase to include interviews with LA safety-team managers and food-industry representatives
  • A telephone survey of enforcement officers (150)
  • A telephone survey of food businesses (1500)
  • Follow-up qualitative research with EOs and food businesses to explore emergent issues in greater depth