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Oldham Council recognises the important contribution food sampling makes to the protection of Public Health and the Food Law Enforcement responsibilities of the Authority. The Council will provide the necessary resources to carry out its food sampling programme which will be reviewed annually.

Suitably qualified, trained and authorised Environmental Health Officers and Enforcement Officers from the Public Protection Service will be responsible for undertaking the food sampling functions of the Council. Samples are taken in compliance with the Code of Practice.

The Council has appointed the Public Analyst at Lancashire County Scientific Services for all food analysis; and the Food Examiner Health Protection Agency’s, Food, Water and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Preston for microbiological examination of food. Water samples are submitted to United Utilities for both analysis and microbiological examination.

Aims of Sampling

To protect public health

  • To detect and deter fraudulent activities
  • To verify that official control checks are effective
  • To give customers the right information to make informed choices
  • To ensure that food standards are maintained
  • To inform our enforcement approach
  • To provide product quality advice to the producer
  • To promote fair trade and deter bad practice

Food Sampling Surveys/Programmes

The sampling programme will include the following elements:

  • Regional/National Surveys (eg FSA, HPA,)
  • Inspection-linked samples
  • Food complaints
  • Outbreak investigations
  • Imported food

Surveys

Microbiological Sampling

A structured regional food safety sampling programme is devised by the Greater Manchester Food Liaison Group in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency. Detailed protocols are devised to ensure consistency of sampling and results. Between 12 – 16 such surveys are carried out yearly with full reports being produced which may result in national publication.

Analysis sampling

A structured regional food standards sampling programme is drawn up on an annual basis by the Greater Manchester Food Standards Group in conjunction with the authority’s Public Analyst.

Inspections- linked sampling

Food sampling will be undertaken at the discretion of officers as part of food hygiene and food standards inspections of premises.

Food Complaints

Some food complaints may require either microbiological examination or chemical analysis.

Outbreak investigations

Special circumstances may arise during the year which will require samples to be taken. These samples will most likely be generated during the investigation of food poisoning incidents. Samples may include environmental samples/swabs in addition to food samples.

Imported Foods

Some premises have imported foods that originate from “third countries” and sampling of these foods is undertaken in order to ensure these foods meet the high standards of EEC produced foods.