Around 250 food safety experts from across the UK gathered in London last week for the first National Food Safety Communications Conference organised by foodlink , a Food and Drink Federation (FDF) initiative which organises National Food Safety Week and is backed by the Food Standards Agency and other industry groups.
Awards were also handed out to the UK's top environmental health teams for their imaginative approaches to communicating food safety.
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 reward teams for their good work in promoting food safety in their regions.
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.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'. They performed to primary schools and nurseries to convey important food safety messages to around 15,000 children.
The Council also made a film in conjunction with Warwickshire Food for Health Group and Stratford-on-Avon College, called 'Good Cook Bad Cook'. This was sent in a resource pack free of charge to every primary school across Warwickshire.
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 knowthat food safety is much more important. So I am very pleased to say thatfood safety is fighting back. Today's awards show that brilliant new ideasand initiatives are happening where they need to happen in local communities. We are making impacts, ones that make life better and safer for everybody."