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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
Living Longer: Ageing Well
The third phase of the Welsh Government’s pioneering Strategy for Older People in Wales has been launched.
- ‘Enterprise Troopers’ set to storm Wales’ primary schools
- “Wales is leading the way on Sustainable Procurement” – Jane Hutt
- Living Longer: Ageing Well
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
Sky lanterns: environmental and risk assessment »To establish an evidence base to help any future policy decisions on sky lanterns and helium balloons.Learn more »
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- Renting Homes White Paper
- Continuity and Change - Refreshing the Relationship between Welsh Government and the Third Sector in Wales
- Strategic Environmental Assessment: Environmental Report, Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020
- The draft School Governors’ Annual Reports (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- The future of agricultural statistical data collection methods in Wales
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Oral - The Welsh Assembly Government`s Response to the E.Coli Inquiry Report
I made a statement to the Assembly on 24 March, immediately following the publication of Professor Hugh Pennington’s report of the public inquiry into the outbreak of E. coli O157 in the south Wales Valleys in 2005. I promised then that the report would be considered in detail and that I would respond more fully as soon as possible. That is the aim of my statement today.
Professor Pennington laid the responsibility for the outbreak squarely on the shoulders of William Tudor, the food business operator, and highlighted the principle that prime responsibility for food safety lies with the businesses involved in preparing, storing and selling food. There were areas where the systems and the people involved responded rapidly and effectively, but attention was inevitably focused on those areas where faults were found.
The report contains 24 specific recommendations, but we must not lose sight of Professor Pennington’s general conclusion that the requirements for food hygiene in place at the time of the outbreak should have been sufficient to prevent it. As is so often the case, it is not the systems that are fault, but how well or how badly those systems work that makes the difference. Good inspectors are not necessarily good box-tickers, and good box-tickers are not necessarily good inspectors. Training therefore has to focus on distinguishing between what is a life-or-death piece of bad practice and what is just a minor misdemeanour in procedure. That means good prioritisation and working out how young inspectors can acquire expertise quickly and how experienced inspectors can refresh their knowledge of the procedures or of the science.
The recommendations therefore reflect what needs to be improved, tightened or reinforced. In most cases, these recommendations are directed at organisations and services outside the Assembly Government. Those recommendations cover the areas of the conduct and audit of food hygiene inspections in abattoirs and in other food businesses, which are the responsibility of the Food Standards Agency, plus its executive agency, the Meat Hygiene Service, and local authorities. The recommendations also cover: communications systems in the health and care services, which include the national public health service, local health boards and local authorities; hygiene in schools, which is the responsibility of school governors and headteachers, working with local authorities; and, finally, learning more about how to identify and limit the effects of E. coli O157 in cattle, especially the mystery of the supershedder animals. These are technical and veterinary areas that need consultation with the Health Protection Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is part of the United Kingdom Government.
We know already that the Food Standards Agency is reviewing the use of equipment such as vacuum-packing machinery for raw and cooked products and whether that should continue. In the meantime, enforcement officers will ensure that fully effective cleaning procedures are in place, with strict adherence to hazard analysis and critical control point principles. The process of auditing a business’s food hygiene HACCP plan is being reviewed to tighten it up where needed. The training of inspectors and their managers is also being examined, with the aim of making it more comprehensive, helping them to develop a sixth sense of what has the potential to be catastrophic in food safety terms. Inspections will be unannounced unless there is a clear requirement otherwise.
In relation to local authorities, our officials are working closely with the Welsh Local Government Association and the Directors of Public Protection Wales to ensure that every recommendation is fully addressed. Local authorities are also being encouraged to continue carrying out checks during food safety inspections to establish how well the employees of food businesses understand the correct use of sanitizers and to offer advice to businesses and their staff on improvements. That is an extra strand in an inspection that may be fixed or unannounced.
All local authorities in Wales are reviewing their policies, procedures and systems in light of the Pennington report. I will provide a written statement on our analysis of those 22 reviews, when we have replies indicating that they have all been completed. Beyond the responsibilities that fall directly to the Food Standards Agency and local authorities, the systems for the procurement of food for public sector organisations are being reviewed by the Welsh Assembly Government as well as by local authorities individually and collectively, as represented by the Welsh Local Government Association.
Health and care agencies are also looking again at their out-of-hours communications procedures, as recommended, to ensure that they are tested and working as required. The scientific methods of identifying E. coli O157 and the cattle most prone to spreading it—the so-called 'super-shedders’—are being examined to see whether better methods of spotting these animals can be developed. The Assembly Government is seeking technical and veterinary advice on these matters.
The report made two recommendations addressed directly to the National Assembly for Wales. The first was that
'the National Assembly for Wales should consider my recommendations and monitor and report progress on implementation’.
The other was that
'additional resources should be made available to ensure that all food businesses in Wales understand and use the HACCP approach and have in place an effective, documented, food safety management system which is embedded in working culture and practice’.
The second is that ' a substantial review of food hygiene enforcement in Wales should take place approximately 5 years after the publication of this report’.
Everyone involved should make clear the improvements and safeguards that have already been put in place since the outbreak in 2005, and those areas where further action is needed. Assembly Government actions will be reported to Cabinet by the relevant departments.
In conclusion, I place on record again our sympathies and thoughts for all those who were affected by the E. coli outbreak, and in particular the family of five-year old Mason Jones, who died as a result of it. The Pennington inquiry report is a brilliant piece of work, and it has shone a clear light upon those areas where shortcomings were evident and where mistakes had been made. It helps us to do everything that we can to reduce the risk of such errors occurring in future. Those actions are the responsibility of a range of organisations, including us, but with the Assembly Government primarily involved in ensuring that those efforts are sustained and co-ordinated. I hope that, this afternoon, it has been possible to demonstrate that this process is already under way, although by no means complete.