Agenda item

Food Safety Service Plan

Report of the Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services


In the absence of the Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services, the Leader read the following introduction to his report:

I am presenting this report on behalf of Cllr Horwood who is on leave and who wanted to me to mention, for complete transparency, that his wife works for the UK Health Security Agency which is referred to in the report.

In the area of food safety Cheltenham Borough Council operates within a strict framework of British law which, I'm pleased to say, is still complying with high European food safety standards, at least for now.

This work covers a wide variety of food businesses and they paint an interesting picture.

There are 1,102 registered food businesses in Cheltenham this year, which is a little down on last year's total of 1,113.

I'm happy to report that the number of restaurants and cafés is up from 280 to 294 although the number of takeaways is down from 111 to 101 and the number of pubs and clubs providing food is down one to 99.  The number of supermarkets selling food is up one from 32 to 33 while the number of small retailers doing the same is down two to 124. There were 66 schools and colleges providing food and 34 guest houses - both unchanged.  The number of food manufacturers, packers, distributors and importers or exporters was down a little from 36 to 31.  These numbers may represent some long-term trends in food business but also short-term fluctuations as some businesses close or merge and others open. Overall they still paint a picture of the local sector that is very healthy - in both senses of the word.

As a council, we inspect food premises, we investigate complaints and provide advice to festivals and events. We administer the Food Hygiene Rating System locally and we pro-actively visit new businesses. We also exercise important powers in relation to infectious disease control covering areas such as food poisoning outbreaks and water-borne diseases following standard procedures set out by the UK Health Security Agency, UKHSA. We collect food samples and pass them to specialist labs at the Public Analyst Scientific Services in Wolverhampton and at UKHSA. We take a risk-based approach that we hope isn't burdensome to the well-run businesses that we want to thrive in Cheltenham. So we will continue to focus our resources on the highest risk food activities and the food businesses with the poorest records, with the aim of constantly improving standards across Cheltenham.

Although the Covid Recovery Plan has now finished, there are some elements of it that still apply to food safety and government is currently consulting on an improved permanent system which might, for instance, include more flexibility in the methods and techniques of official controls that can be used to risk rate food establishments and allow some officers who do not hold a ‘suitable qualification’ for food hygiene to undertake some tasks as long as they are competent to do so.  We hope government won't be lowering standards or allowing loopholes to creep into the system. As a council I would like to emphasise that we remain committed to the highest possible standards of food safety.

I am happy to commend this report to cabinet.

The Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing commented on the huge importance of this piece of work, and the reassurance it gave. People could have confidence that the chances of getting food poisoning from a take-away or restaurant were absolutely minimal, and Cheltenham could be proud of its thriving hospitality sector and the work the council does to help.


The Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets said it was easy to forget the depth and breadth of the amount of work the council does every year in support hospitality businesses, yet the statistics are staggering.  He thanked the relevant officers on behalf of the Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services, and also commended CBC’s media team for highlighting food safety awards via social media, supporting the industry in a different way.


The Leader agreed, saying that people were rightly proud of their 5-star ratings, and sharing via social media and on signs would encourage others to aspire to the same.  She also thanked officers for their work.  




-       the Food Safety Service Plan 2023-24 is approved


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