The challenges of food law enforcement : perceptions of environmental health practitioners in the Northwest of England

Assan, N 2019, The challenges of food law enforcement : perceptions of environmental health practitioners in the Northwest of England , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

In the United Kingdom (UK) food law and its enforcement are currently governed by European and domestic law through a regulatory framework that seeks to provide a high level of public health protection to ensure food is safe for human consumption. Government reports recommend the need for alternative enforcement tools for those responsible for enforcing food law so that they can properly address any failures within a food business thus preventing foodborne incidents from recurring. It is important to know whether there are challenges enforcers face when dealing with breaches of the law that may be difficult to identify hidden problems. This study aims to analyse the views reflected by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) currently working in food law enforcement in Local Authorities (LAs) across the North West of England. The study focuses on food inspections and current enforcement strategies. This study builds on existing literature to examine EHP perceptions of the effectiveness of tools available to them in the area of food inspections and enforcement. This study fills the gap in the literature by conducting a qualitative methodology of the perceptions and views of EHPs to gain knowledge about the successes and failures of inspection practices including the practicality of the food hygiene rating scheme and how other forms of enforcement measures would affect enforcement practices in England. In lieu of the current economic climate, it was also important to gauge the opinions of enforcement officers on the future of environmental health and more specifically food law enforcement. Twenty-one Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from seventeen Local Authorities in the North West of England took part in this study. All the participants were either directly involved in the enforcement of food law or managed a team of enforcement officers. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews via Skype. All participants were asked the same questions. A number of important findings were obtained from the data. The results showed that there is gender and race disparity when it comes to the use of certain regulatory interventions and enforcement tools. In addition, an EHPs level of experience and if they had previously worked in other areas of environmental health are also significant factors of perceptions towards food law enforcement. This has implications as to whether the demographics of a local authority has a bearing on enforcement decisions and perceptions of how the law is interpreted. This is an essential insight which the literature does not discuss. The study also reinforced support for mandatory disclosure of the inspection results of food businesses but revealed that the use of the FHRS may not be the best way to assess food business compliance since it does not provide the desired accuracy to assess compliance. The implications of such findings make it essential to provide a sound framework for enforcement so that high standards of food safety are maintained.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Depositing User: N Assan
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2019 12:42
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 02:30
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/51722

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