|name:||Richard Anthony Edward North|
|occupation:||He is a qualified environmental health officer specialising in food hygiene and safety. He is also currently registered with Leeds Metropolitan University, undertaking a Ph.D. in aspects of food poisoning.|
|relevance:||Food Poisoning Expert|
Richard North is an independent environmental health officer who has worked in industry for the last 15 years, mainly with the hotel and catering trades. He was heavily involved with cook-chill, being responsible of the design of a number of major hospital kitchen installations. After the Edwina Currie salmonella scare, he represented the United Kingdom Egg Producers Association and has been largely credited with ending the government's compulsory slaughter policy for laying hens.
For the last three years. he has been researching the quality of public sector food- poisoning surveillance for his PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University. His studies have involved an in-depth examination of food-poisoning outbreak investigations on which data much of this seminar is based. Richard submitted 131,000 words of written evidence, and oral evidence to the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, much of it on standards of food-poisoning investigation, from which the Committee concluded that investigation procedures needed improvement.
He is a frequent lecturer, writer and broadcaster, and is heavily involved in the current deregulation debate, having addressed the DTI "Scrutiny" Committee on EHO activities, as well as the Deregulation Committee and the No. 10 Downing Street Policy Unit on the same subject. His main stance is that more time should be spent on effective investigation of food-poisoning, producing data which will enable the food industries to improve the targeting of food-poisoning controls. The campaign for the restoration of local authority control of meat inspection and the removal of veterinary inspection, is also taking much of his time, whilst he is also co-authoring a book with Christopher Booker of the Sunday Telegraph, entitled "The Mad Officials", due for publication in the Autumn.
As to the claim that "meat is responsible for 70% of all food-poisoning incidents", I would agree that this is essentially in accordance with my understanding of the situation.
As regards responsibility, I would not, myself, state that meat was responsible for the outbreaks. Rather, I would say that the mishandling of meat and their products was responsible for them. In this context, the pedantic interpretation of the statistics would be less favourable to the plaintiff. On this and the aforementioned bases, I would accept that the Greenpeace comment made was fair comment.
As to "chicken and minced meat (as used in burgers) being the worst offendors, I too believe this to be fair comment. It is well recognised that chicken is the main meat product associated with food-poisoning, and minced meat is a particularly sensitive product.
Despite the visual standards, the Sun Valley unit still produced chicken meat with a salmonella burden of 25 per cent, magnified from one per cent in the live birds.
In this sense, it is fair to say that the McDonalds operation, taken as a whole, is intrinsically unhygienic - despite the emphasis on wholesome appearance and allied attributes. The same must be said of the burger operation.