The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has called on MPs to protect professionals responsible for enforcing food safety standards following fears that expertise are being hollowed out due to funding cuts.
CIEH recently published the results of its first workforce survey of environmental health professionals (EHPs) across the country, which found that over half of local authorities are not taking on trainees or apprentices in environmental health, due to funding and capacity issues.
It is now calling for ring-fenced funding to pay for the salaries of environmental health apprentices as part of a suite of measures to support the future of the environmental health profession.
CIEH is also calling for increased funding to support regulatory and public health functions in local authorities and the establishment of a new role in England of a chief environmental health officer to mirror roles already in place in other UK nations.
Among a wide range of responsibilities, EHPs play a key role in ensuring the safety and integrity of food sold to consumers in both retail and out of home settings. They are also responsible for the award of food hygiene ratings.
“Environmental health professionals have played a huge role during this past year, from ensuring that businesses re-open safely to supporting vulnerable members of the community and putting together strategic plans locally. Now it is time to focus on this multi-skilled profession and provide support to the people who have been working tirelessly to protect us in recent months,” said Phil James, chief executive of CIEH.