Belfast Port audit

18-19 January 2012

Executive summary

Belfast City Council had developed a service plan for food law enforcement for 2011/12, approved by relevant members in June 2011. The plan detailed the scope of the service and included reference to its imported food responsibilities at Belfast Port. The plan had been drawn up in line with service planning guidance in the Framework Agreement.

The council ensured port health officers were appropriately authorised to carry out enforcement activities at the relevant ports. File checks showed port health officers had significantly more than the required 10 hours continuing professional development training and appropriate imported food training.

The council had well organised, effective systems and arrangements in place in relation to the identification and control of containerised imported food, including high risk products. Appropriate facilities and equipment were available for the inspection and sampling of imported food not of animal origin.

Imported food controls including documentary checks, identity checks and random physical checks were risk based and targeted, in accordance with regulations and previous knowledge and experience. Appropriate official controls were being carried out as required on high risk food not of animal origin.

Appropriate action had been taken on unsatisfactory consignments and where necessary notices had been served requiring appropriate follow-up action on food consignments.

Belfast City Council had developed and implemented policies and procedures covering all areas within the scope of the audit as part of the council’s quality management system. The procedures provided instructions and guidance regarding the inspection and sampling of imported foods. Records maintained in relation to imported food were detailed, accurate, and easily retrievable.

There were extensive liaison arrangements with central government, other enforcement bodies, professional organisations and other external stakeholders. The council had ensured that food businesses had been advised in regard to imported food control requirements.

The council had implemented effective internal monitoring of its imported food activities and the auditors noted significant evidence of both quantitative and qualitative monitoring.