North East Lincolnshire Council’s commercial regulatory services – comprising of Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Port Health – had a busy time in 2022. From hundreds of inland food business inspections, illicit tobacco court cases and raids, to firework safety checks and vessel inspections at Immingham and Grimsby Docks.
The year also saw the Trading Standards team heavily involved in the control of the national bird flu outbreak, with the first-ever confirmed cases amongst farmed poultry flocks in North East Lincolnshire.
All teams have also dealt with hundreds of enquiries, service requests and complaints regarding Trading Standards, food safety, infectious disease, health and safety and Port Health matters.
Here’s a look back at what 1 April to 31 December had in store for the teams.
In combating the supply of illicit tobacco, the team have issued three formal cautions and 18 written warnings. They have seven court cases pending, with another three investigations ongoing. In total, they removed 82,080 packs of illegal cigarettes and 746 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco from North East Lincolnshire last year. They have also removed 2,580 illegal and potentially unsafe vapes from sale.
The team were heavily involved in the control of the national bird flu outbreak with the first-ever confirmed cases amongst farmed poultry flocks in North East Lincolnshire, as well as undertaking other animal health and feed inspections.
They also provided guidance to numerous businesses regarding ‘Natasha’s Law’ (the allergy labelling of pre-packed foods). The increase in non-compliance is consistent with a national picture thought to be the result of the combined impacts on business from the Covid pandemic and energy price rises.
All this as well as, the team have carried out inspections of petroleum sites, which included advising on the de-commissioning of three sites, the safe storage of fireworks, resulting in the executing of a search warrant for unsafe storage, verifying the accuracy of weighbridges, continuing to promote the ‘Buy with Confidence’ trader scheme and preparing to implement new legislation under The Tenant Fees Act.
Hundreds of businesses were and inspected and new businesses were supported. The team found a large number of non-compliances with food safety and health and safety legislation. This resulted in seven voluntary closures of food businesses due to the risk of health, 10 health and safety improvement notices being served, two health and safety prohibition notices, and the prosecution of one takeaway for various food hygiene offences.
They have also found time to take part in four national projects:
- Maintenance of gas appliances and systems and effectiveness of ventilation in catering premises
- The recommissioning of catering kitchens after Covid,
- Sampling of ready to eat hot & cold smoked fish
- Sampling of takeaway catering at sandwich and salad bars.
The Port Health Team has supported and certified a total of 1,833 fishery product consignments with Export Health Certificates, 999 of them going across to the European Union (EU) and 834 going to the Rest of the world. They examined a total of 2,021 consignments of food and feed materials being imported into the UK. We estimate the value of the products they’ve dealt with to be between £150m and £180m, and that doesn’t include the EU shipments.
Officers boarded 166 vessels berthed at Immingham and Grimsby Docks from all over the world and issued Ship Sanitation Certificates and water sampling to protect the health and safety of those working on board, as well as ensuring visiting vessels do not pose public health risks.
The team also acted swiftly when new import controls were put on hold, meaning they could not move to the new Border Control Post at Immingham Docks. As their current Border Control Post on Grimsby Docks was already earmarked for closure, it resulted in the setting up of a new facility at the Seafood Village in record time. Since July this new facility has seen 1,373 consignments checked.