By Angela Frewin
A new hotel and catering recruitment company is to give medical checks to all staff to identify infections that could be spread to guests.
Kevin Shore, a chef for 13 years, is launching Essex-based Mega Recruitment and has linked with health specialist Medical Consultants to test prospective staff. The aim is to ensure that workers are healthy and reassure employers they are not employing unwitting carriers of infectious conditions.
Food handlers in EC-approved abattoirs must undergo a one-off medical, followed by self-certification that they have not contracted anything infectious since. But this is not true of kitchen staff, although they also deal with raw food.
Shore sees this as a serious shortcoming, especially where events using a variety of out-sourced staff make outbreaks impossible to trace back.
Shore said that a few recruitment agencies provided health checks, but usually only at the request of employers.
He concedes that screening would be expensive for the industry, at more than £60 per person, and that ideally staff should be checked regularly.
But a spokesman for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health felt mandatory health screening would be of limited help.
He stressed that the greatest risk lay with bad hygiene practices, such as poor control of temperature and cross-contamination of food, and believed existing health and hygiene guidelines to be adequate to prevent the transmission of disease.