Monday 18 December 2006
I lead the FSA's Regional Presence Unit, part of Food Hygiene Implementation Division, heading up Agency teams working out of the Government offices for the regions.
This work is part of the agency's commitment to strengthen links with local and regional organisations to help deliver key targets in food safety and healthy eating. I see my role as an advocate for the work the FSA is doing to improve public health, and one of encouraging more effectively working relationships with others able to help in this task.
I have worked in the public health area for more than 25 years. My initial training was as an environmental health officer in local Government, where I worked for 14 years. I later worked in food safety and environmental consultancy before finally joining the Department of Health in 1990.
‘I see my role as an advocate for the work the FSA is doing to improve public health’
Although in senior positions in both local government and consultancy, I moved into central Government because I felt that this would provide me with a greater opportunity to influence policy and ultimately outcomes. I have not been disappointed with this career move.
I have worked for the Agency since its launch in 2000. This has involved leading teams working on UK hygiene policy and legislation; enforcement, food labelling and composition, and imported food.
My work has included national campaigns, media interviews, international negotiations and presentations both in the UK and Europe to help deliver key Agency information and objectives.
My current regional work builds on these skills and knowledge. It is very much about forging effective local partnerships. This might focus on better links with local public health teams or healthy schools co-ordinators, or any organisation where we have a shared agenda. Or it could involve supporting environmental health and trading standards officers to work more effectively on our food safety and healthy eating priorities.
At its simplest, my work is to ensure the Agency's key messages on healthy eating and food safety are walked through the doors of food businesses and consumers up and down the country. This builds on the significant Agency activity done at a national level. It will only be achieved by linking effectively with organisations and businesses with a presence and role in the local community.
My motivation has always come from the knowledge that what people eat can affect their immediate or long term health. Eating the wrong food - through a lack of knowledge, information or choice, or ignorance of basic food hygiene rules - can have serious consequences.
My work and that of my team is to deliver something tangible at a local level, which helps people choose a better diet and ensures the food they and their family eat is safe. We have made encouraging progress to date, but there is more to be done.