Some 250 top food safety experts from across the UK gathered in London last week for the first ever foodlink National Food Safety Communications Conference.
Foodlink, the organisers of National Food Safety Week rewarded the nation's top environmental health teams for their approaches to communicating food safety. Three councils were awarded prizes. Stratford-on-Avon District Council took top prize with Glasgow City Council and Colchester Borough Council both receiving the runner's up award.
With up to 4.5 million cases of food poisoning in the UK each year, the conference and awards ceremony, chaired by Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University, aimed to highlight the importance of communicating vital food safety messages to consumers. The conference brought together Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and organisations with an interest in food safety from all sectors of the food chain, to exchange ideas and recognise work in promoting food safety in their regions.
Stratford's innovative collaboration with Stratford-on-Avon College of Performing Arts to convey food safety messages in support of National Food Safety Week, won over the judges.
The theatrical team created eight different performances based on the foodlink booklet, The A-Z of Food Safety, which was performed in schools across the country.
Launched this year, the foodlink Food Safety Communication Awards, are organised by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) who have run the annual National Food Safety Week for the last ten years. The Awards highlight the creative work done by EHOs across the UK. In particular, during National Food Safety Week in June, EHOs up and down the country invaded schools, shopping centres, town halls and other public venues with eye-catching and imaginative programmes designed to make food safety messages user-friendly and easy to understand.
Martin Paterson, FDF deputy director general, said:"Food safety is an important issue within the home environment, and through the dedicated work of EHOs, foodlink has helped open the eyes of many more people. We aim to highlight their excellent work through these Awards. We had a great number of entries, all of an extremely high standard but Stratford-on-Avon District Council's innovative use of the theatre to bring to life food safety issues was exceptional."
Speaking at the awards ceremony Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University said:"Food safety and rocket science are often linked. Rightly it is said that food hygiene is not rocket science and that one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to carry it out successfully. But the dramas of space have helped rocket science to win hands down in public impact. But we all know that food safety is much more important. So I am very pleased to say that food safety is fighting back. Today's awards show that brilliant new ideas and initiatives are happening where they need to happen in local communities. We are making impacts that make life better and safer for everybody."