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Public at risk from food poisioning due to EHO shortages

07 November 2005

An acute shortage of environmental health officers (EHOs) is putting the public at risk from food poisoning in restaurants and other catering outlets.

The BBC's Real Story

Paul Robinson, director of education and professional standards at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), said the sector had suffered a double whammy over the past three years, which had affected recruitment.

Robinson said that student numbers had dwindled because of misconceptions about the job, while many graduates, themselves trained by local authorities, were seduced by the improved hours, pay and opportunities available in the private sector.

He added that staff shortages were forcing local authorities to scale back inspections at restaurants and catering outlets to deal with environmental health emergencies and this could be putting the public at greater risk from food poisoning.

Coventry City Council, which has just 11 officers to police 3,000 food outlets, has slashed its random food sampling programme from a planned 400 premises to just 40 last year.

By Angela Frewin

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