I’m citing Hugh Pennington against #RareBurgers – just to save lives, you understand

(This is a re-post of my Storify article, which follows on from this one)

Following the FSA’s decision to recommend potential controls for serving rare burgers to consenting adults, I’ve been getting a little cross about this. Here’s an update.

I was travelling back from France over Tuesday and Wednesday so hadn’t caught up with whether the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) had considered their public health position on the FSA proposals.

Just got back to UK; have @The_CIEH and @TIFSIP come up with a public health position on #RareBurgers since last week? Happy to provide one!

Just got back to UK; have @The_CIEH and @TIFSIP come up with a public health position on #RareBurgers since last week? Happy to provide one!

It turned out they had.

cieh.org/media/CIEH-comment-FSA-report-serving-rare-burgers.html … Comment on #RareBurgers from @The_CIEH recognising complexity of "controls". I'll still have mine well-done thanks.

cieh.org/media/CIEH-comment-FSA-report-serving-rare-burgers.html … Comment on #RareBurgers from @The_CIEH recognising complexity of “controls”. I’ll still have mine well-done thanks.

And in the online newsletter for the environmental health community, Professor Hugh Pennington was cited in support of the CIEH’s position:

ehn-online.com/news/article.aspx?id=14613 … Concern for public health brings @The_CIEH out against #RareBurgers and @EHN_Online cites Hugh Pennington in support.

ehn-online.com/news/article.aspx?id=14613 … Concern for public health brings @The_CIEH out against #RareBurgers and @EHN_Online cites Hugh Pennington in support.

EHN Online has written articles on the topic previously, and again Professor Pennington offers his unequivocal advice. And it’s not in support of the faddish and foolish:

"Professor Hugh Pennington told @EHN_Online in July that the risks could not be managed safely." Only thorough cooking will do #RareBurgers.

“Professor Hugh Pennington told @EHN_Online in July that the risks could not be managed safely.” Only thorough cooking will do #RareBurgers.

The only safe burger is thoroughly cooked or irradiated, Hugh Pennington tells @EHN_Online #RareBurgers @foodgov http://www.ehn-online.com/news/article.aspx?id=14613 …

The only safe burger is thoroughly cooked or irradiated, Hugh Pennington tells @EHN_Online #RareBurgers @foodgov http://www.ehn-online.com/news/article.aspx?id=14613

Personally and professionally, it remains my opinion that for the FSA to even hint that it is possible for rare burgers to be safely prepared and sold to the public will only encourage the less capable and competent sectors of the catering industry to think that they’re safe to prepare and sell without bothering with all the rigmarole. After all, what can possibly go wrong?

Hugh Pennington: "maybe every thousandth meal will kill you, but that is too many." http://www.ehn-online.com/news9202.html  #RareBurgers @EHN_Online @foodgov

Hugh Pennington: “maybe every thousandth meal will kill you, but that is too many.” http://www.ehn-online.com/news9202.html #RareBurgers @EHN_Online @foodgov

The proposed controls suggested by the FSA read more like sophisticated theology than a simple set of rules to ensure the service of safe food. And that’s the clue folks! If it’s that bloody hard to do safely, it almost certainly can’t be done safely.

Pennington: just a matter of time before potentially fatal E.coli outbreak following trend in #RareBurgers http://www.ehn-online.com/news9202.html  @foodgov

Pennington: just a matter of time before potentially fatal E.coli outbreak following trend in #RareBurgers http://www.ehn-online.com/news9202.html @foodgov

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A vision for environmental health

I attended the CIEH Assembly of Representatives today, and it was good to see the work that the professional body is putting into identifying and meeting the challenges of the future. The profession can be proud of the people who work for the CIEH and their commitment to keeping environmental health relevant in the face of stringent and biting cuts in local government finances in UK. One of the tasks we were given was to describe a vision for environmental health in ten years’ time. This is what our table came up with:

Honest: speak truth to all without fear or favour

Holistic: engage with all the determinants of health

WiderDeterminants_jpeg_400x300

Beneficial: to society, our communities, the environment and those in government

Engaged: ever-broadening the scope of the profession to include all those whose work affects the public health

Active: to do things that make a difference and are visible to people

Global leader: to learn from the world and provide leadership in environmental health science and practice

Expert: building the professional knowledge base and sharing the learning

Influential: being visible and unavoidable in the public discourse

Responsive: identifying emerging issues and providing a prompt and effective response

There were many other contributions to the same task and this is only the subset of our own small table.

Brazen Scottish Conservatives refuse to admit their lying over food safety in Scottish schools

I’ve now heard from Tom Wall, the Digital Editor for Environmental Health News, that he’s had a response form the Scottish Conservative party about their mischief-making over food safety in Scottish schools. They do not deny the accusation of lying or mischief-making. Draw your own conclusions, folks.

In fact, you can email them at michael.tait@scottish.parliament.uk if you think their position is cowardly and contemptuous of the electorate – or if you think their position is virtuous and bold and you wish to congratulate them for sticking by their guns. Or you can follow their Twitter feed at @ScotTories, or even send them a message congratulating them on their brass neck.

The email exchange between Tom Wall and Michael Tait is below:

From: Michael.Tait@scottish.parliament.uk <Michael.Tait@scottish.parliament.uk>
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2014 11:40 PM
To: Tom Wall
Subject: RE: School standards press release ‘misleading’

Dear Tom,

We have no further response beyond the letter to Mr Mackie.

Regards

Michael

From: Tom Wall
Sent: 17 March 2014 12:54
To: Tait M (Michael)
Subject: Re: School standards press release ‘misleading’

Hi Michael

Would be useful to know if you are going to respond?

The FSA data provides no basis for claiming improvement notices were served and or making inferences about cleanliness of school kitchens. But your press release does both. Are you going to amend the press release?

Thanks

Tom

​Tom Wall
Environmental Health News
Digital Editor

Twitter @EHN_Online
Web www.ehn-online.com

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Chadwick Court 15 Hatfields London SE1 8DJ

Foodsafety mischief by Scottish Conservatives published in EHN_Online

My small but persistent request for evidence from the Scottish Conservatives about the data underlying their mischievous claims about food safety in Scottish schools has been picked up by the prestigious on-line environmental health journal, EHN Online. Tom Wall, the reporter who wrote the story based upon the posts in this blog, relates that even he couldn’t get the party to show their working. Perhaps shaming on a UK stage will now prompt a response. As always, watch this space.

Preaching what you practice

I spent Friday in Wolverhampton at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s Education and Research Special Interest Group’s conference. This is the second year we’ve seen a conference aimed specifically at promoting research, writing and publication for the environmental health profession. And this year the CIEH’s Education team came along and joined in. For the record, the event was sponsored by the CIEH West Midlands Region and Highfield Publications.

The title for the conference was “Preaching what you Practice”, which speaks to the generally dismal performance of environmental health practitioners (EHPs) in building the evidence base for the profession by failing to design studies in environmental health practice, or even to write up and publish their experiences in tackling the conditions that affect the health outcomes of everyone in our communities.

The challenge for putting environmental health practice on a firm foundation of evidence is now increasingly urgent, particularly in England, where environmental health and public health are coming together in their natural home in local government. Public health is a field founded in clinical thinking and practice where research and publication are the essential prerequisites of practice. Environmental health, although rich in data, has a very poor track record of writing and publishing what it does and how it achieves its successes. This must change. Continue reading

My pledge to Kelvin – fulfilled

In June I referred to the meeting of the CIEH’s Assembly of Representatives, at which members were asked to pledge something to further the cause of environmental health research and help to build the knowledge base.

I have now posted a paper on an obscure corner of environmental health administrative practice on this blog. That fulfills the pledge, but begins another journey of enquiry.

This is the first time I’ve ever published a paper, even on a blog, so it will be full of epistemological and other rational holes, and readers are invited to comment on it to improve the quality and usefulness of the information.

You can read the paper on this page.

When Jigsaw met Graham

Another great podcast from Jigsaw PSPH. This time, talking to Graham Jukes, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, who remains ever positive, energetic and optimistic about the future of the environmental health profession in UK.

The CEO of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health gave up his lunch to talk 2 us find out what he had 2 say http://jigsawpsph.podomatic.com

My Pledge to Kelvin

In the CIEH’s Royal Charter, environmental health is described as an art and a science. I suspect that this duality has long undermined the collective will of the profession to do our damnedest to put environmental health practice on a sound scientific basis. After all, if we have no evidence base for a particular way of doing things, we can always claim art, can’t we?
It is true that the stressors that affect public health and drive health inequalities are not all biological like typhoid, or physical like noise, or chemical like lead. Some are social as when people are in overcrowded housing or have no security of tenure. Some are financial such as being unable to afford to heat a home in winter or buy fresh food for a family.
Equally, some of our professional interventions are scientific, such as ensuring that water is clean and that E. coli O157 is absent from the steak pie you’ve just bought for your Sunday lunch.
Other interventions are social, providing money to enable people to insulate their homes and thus afford to heat them.
And yet others are more artful, such as providing training to workers in health and safety or food safety, or carers in first aid for young children.
But the crucial question remains: how do we know what works? Continue reading

Ethical principles and ethical practice

This was one of the themes that came out in the course of the Assembly of Representatives’ meeting at the CIEH’s headquarters yesterday. The Assembly brings together representatives from the various regions and special interest groups of the CIEH and acts to connect the formal governance structure of the charity with its membership.

Jon Buttolph (@jonbuttolph) and Tony Lewis (@CIEHEducation) presented the need for a code of ethics, and opposed to the existing code of conduct, for environmental health practitioners. Continue reading