England and Wales’ hidden ‘tsunami’ of coronavirus outbreaks in food plants

According to the Food Standards Agency for England:


Food Standards Scotland appears to be monitoring no outbreak other than the one in Coupar Angus.

Might this situation be the result of a higher frequency of environmental health inspections in Scotland?

This is evidence from 2017:

From Environmental Health News on 20th September:

‘English local authorities are seriously falling behind their devolved neighbours when it comes to resourcing food inspections. The latest LAEMS figures published this week reveals that each Environmental Health professional inspecting food establishments in England is responsible for 345 premises annually while in Wales the figure is nearly half that at 175. In Northern Ireland, the figure is 238 premises per EHP while in Scotland it is 204.’

At the same time, the Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System is reporting complaints about food safety standards increasing dramatically with England seeing a 24% increase in complaints dealt with last year up from 58,717 to 72,847 and the numbers of food establishments operating in the UK increasing from 627,425 in 2015/15 to 634,584 in 2016/17.

The Head of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said:

‘In the devolved nations, they have the opportunity to resource food safety the way they think appropriate the difference is significant and that does concern us particularly on rising number of food premises to be covered and rising numbers of premises not being inspected.’


Footnote: ‘tsunami’ is now the most popular collective term for any increase, even moderate, in something bad.

8 thoughts on “England and Wales’ hidden ‘tsunami’ of coronavirus outbreaks in food plants

  1. It is not just food processing . Have Boohoo workers been paid a lot less than they should have been?


    “The fast-fashion retailer Boohoo has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester that audits say have failed to prove they pay the minimum wage to workers, a Guardian investigation has found.

    Third-party audit reports produced over the past four years make claims of “critical” issues over record-keeping and working hours at the time they were written, suggesting that in parts of the supply chain workers may be paid as little as £3-£4 an hour.

    Disclosed alongside new whistleblower claims about Boohoo’s supply chain, the confidential reports provide a snapshot of alleged issues in a factory at a specific time. They pose a new challenge to the brand’s insistence that issues reported in July were simply evidence of “the actions of a few” and stood in contrast to “the excellent work of many of our suppliers in the area”.”

    Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, where many of the factories are based, said the allegations suggested “an unforgivable breakdown of our basic social contract” and called on Boohoo to urgently release a full list of its suppliers in the city.”

    This is also from the Guardian.

    “When the Guardian’s senior reporter Archie Bland arrived in Leicester to cover a new coronavirus spike he thought he would be covering a story about the frustrations of a city stuck in lockdown.

    But, as he tells Anushka Asthana, he soon found that the trail of the new outbreak led to Leicester’s garment industry and the thousands of factories that continued to operate during lockdown, some allegedly without proper social distancing and in squalid conditions. Some of those factories supply the online fashion retailer Boohoo, which has seen a massive backlash this week.”



  2. https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/publications/better-regulation-better-whom

    “Yet as Professor Tombs points out, the rate of inspection and enforcement actions for environmental health, food safety and hygiene, and health and safety have all been falling. In the case of health and safety inspections by local authorities, for instance, the average business can now expect to be visited only once in every 20 years.

    This is not just a problem of infrequent inspections and lax enforcement. In the name of cutting red tape, governments of all political persuasions have, for over a decade, undermined independent and effective business regulation. Budget cuts under the austerity programme have compounded the problem. So too have moves to outsource and privatise regulatory and enforcement activity.

    Private companies are increasingly involved in ‘regulating’ themselves. Taken together, Professor Tombs argues, these changes may ‘mark the beginning of the end of the state’s commitment to, and ability to deliver, social protection’.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From 2005


    “Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised to bring in new laws to cut the burden of red tape on business.

    Writing in the Financial Times, he has committed the government to a new bill which will replace unnecessary rules with a “risk-based” approach.

    Mr Brown said business leaders would be consulted on which regulations should be stripped out or simplified.

    Plans for a reform bill to cut the number of official regulators were set out in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

    Mr Brown said inspectors would in future target “bad traders”, rather than continuing a system where “everyone was inspected continuously”.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The UK government has been accused of “abdicating responsibility” for making workplaces safe before urging people back to offices, ahead of the launch of a publicity campaign aimed at reducing homeworking.
    Labour said the plan “beggars belief” and urged ministers to drop it, while the Independent Sage group of scientific advisors called on Friday for a national system of inspections to make sure even the worst employers are complying with social distancing best practice to keep workers safe, The Independent reported.

    The independent expert group, set up amid concerns about political interference in the official Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), announced workplaces should have to be certified before employees could return, and that unannounced inspections should be introduced to ensure they continue to follow the rules.

    They also criticised the timing of the official push back to offices, which coincides with the mass return of pupils and students to school and universities – as well as a rise in daily COVID cases, with the UK reporting its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since June 12 on Thursday, with 1,522 confirmed positive results.

    The chair of the government’s own Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) has also expressed scepticism over plans to pressure employees to stop homeworking, saying it could penalise disabled and vulnerable people.

    The government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty noted last month that the UK had probably reached the limit of what could be opened up safely and that some things might have to close – but the government is now pushing for office workers to stop working from home, in an apparent bid to shore up businesses that rely on their trade.”


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Which parts of this are relevant to Scotland specifically? We all know that Labour, ‘beggars belief’ and are irrelevant to Scotland now. So what they say has little if any bearing especially when it comes to opposing their Tory pals. Since when did a ‘publicity launch’ become a government ‘plan’??

      ‘UK’ rises in cases? ‘UK’ = ENGLAND. When their schools reopen, (next week?) Given the utterly shambolic mishandling of the whole situation since the beginning, by the EngGov, it does not bode well for offuces or schools reopening in England.

      Pop over to travelling tabby for Covid stats specific to Scotland. The BritNats already do the job of not distinguising between different approaches taken by the four nations of the UK, just to make sure people ignore the utter incompetence and deliberate neglect by the Westminster government in England.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. 3 excellent posts sam, cutting “red tape” has been a mantra of several UK governments, on the end of that “red tape” hangs all the safety mechanisms on which society depends and expects to be in place.
      Grenfell and Covid are just two known examples of how myopic governments have been and continue to be, thousands more fups never saw publicity…
      Tragic, avoidable, all for profits…

      Liked by 2 people

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