This case reminded me of the vital role our Environmental Health Service plays within the district. Our own team was involved in this particular case after it was asked by the Food Standards Agency to check that cheese from this manufacturer had been removed from sale within our area.

Unfortunately, cases such as this are not unusual. Our team is regularly sent into businesses to investigate potential risks to health, and these are not just food related. In addition to food safety, they cover everything from Health and Safety at Work, to investigating infectious disease cases. They even have the power to seize items or prohibit work activities if people do not comply.

Helping to prevent harmful situations is always at the forefront of the team's work. They achieve this through targeted communications, training and raising awareness. They even share their knowledge with students at Chichester College on topics from asbestos, to dermatitis, to food hygiene.

As part of their work, the team inspects 800 food premises a year. In addition to restaurants, takeaways and pubs, they also inspect food factories, supermarkets, corner shops and any type of business that sells food. Our team applies a national rating to each one, giving you the ability to check their hygiene ratings before you use them. In our district their efforts have ensured that 97.5% of food businesses are considered satisfactory or better, with the vast majority of these being awarded the highest rating of "5 - very good". Look out for the green sticker on the front of places that sell food to see what their rating is to find out how hygienic they are.

The team also inspects other businesses that require good hygiene standards, such as tattoo parlours, acupuncturists and places that offer piercings. They investigate accidents at work and hold those that may have been negligent to account. This is in addition to inspecting small and large events in the district to make sure that all of the health and safety and food safety requirements have been met. With huge events, such as those at Goodwood, taking place on a regular basis, this work is vitally important.

Along with the wider Environmental Health Services, the team is also on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies. These may range from widespread noise disturbance, to helping residents with flooding, or even temporary rehoming in a rest centre. The Environmental Health Service is the first responder in the council and starts co-ordinating a response. This often involves sending a liaison officer to the site and then determining what other services are required from across the council, including deciding if a rest centre is required. The most recent example was the fire at Selsey Academy, where our officers supported the emergency services and West Sussex County Council.

Your health and wellbeing is one of our priorities and this is one of many areas of work that we focus on to provide you with a safer district. I look forward to giving you an insight into some of the other parts of our Environmental Health Service in future updates.

Best Wishes

Cllr Tony Dignum

Leader of Chichester District Council

September 2016