- 22 February 2024
Can you tell us about your current role and where you work?
I joined South Cambridgeshire District Council in 2015 as Lead Food Enforcement Officer (EHO), tasked with developing their Primary Authority scheme (a government-backed scheme enabling businesses to form a legal partnership with a local authority to receive bespoke, assured regulatory advice). I am currently working as an EHO and Lead Primary Authority Officer specialising in food safety, health and safety and infectious disease. We support businesses by providing advice and education on compliance, thus ensuring public health and safety. Enforcement is the last resort. There is no typical day; one telephone call and your priorities and duties change. One minute you’ve got your head down a drain, the next you are investigating an outbreak…….then inspecting a kitchen.
What is your favourite part of your role?
Oooh I love everything about my role, but it’s the diversity mainly! You never know what you’re going to be dealing with, which means you have to stay on top of your game 110%. It’s a proper ‘think on your feet’ role, with no room for error. It’s also highly satisfying and rewarding. You know you are protecting the public as well as helping businesses to thrive and grow. We are a front-line service that nobody hears about, but everybody needs and relies on.
Can you give us an overview of your career path?
After finishing two degrees and a masters, I worked at PepsiCo as a food, health and safety and hygiene manager, a role which took me around the world. In one of the premises I was visiting, we had a visit from an EHO. After chatting with the EHO, I was intrigued and researched the role, swiftly becoming rather inspired. Rather than undertaking another degree, I took an alternative route - which gave me additional benefits and covered the wider field of Environmental Health in greater detail.
I handed in my notice and studied for my Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection and Standards, a qualification which allows me to carry out the EHO role. I joined Wiltshire council as a Public Protection Officer, working part time while studying then full time after qualifying. There I honed my skills by carrying out inspections, audits and investigations, as well as providing advice, education and compliance guidance.
After 12 years, I then worked as a food safety expert at Tesco as a trading law/operational risk manager, drafting policy and implementing change. Then I moved to South Cambridgeshire District Council, where my previous enforcement and industrial experience has proven particularly useful for my current role. I am also a mentor for new and existing EHOs (civil and military) and have trained over 20 students. I am mentor within the District Council, as well as for CIEH, and act as an assessor for the UK Public Health Register.
In your role, how do you support/improve the public’s health and wellbeing?
EHOs are public protection officers; we make sure that the public is kept safe by ensuring compliance with current regulations and best practice guidance. We educate and advise in the first instance but take enforcement action when necessary. We work reactively to complaints and issues, but work proactively through the Primary Authority scheme and other projects. For example, South Cambridgeshire District Council have signed up to the Cambridgeshire “Free to Feed” project to encourage breast feeding in cafes and restaurants etc, as this can have a positive effect on children’s health, weight and overall wellbeing
What area(s) of public health are you the most passionate about?
All areas of Environmental Health are interesting, but my passions are food safety, infectious disease (zoonosis) and health and safety. It’s here I feel I make the most difference as I love the science; I love that the advice I provide can make instant changes to public safety and to businesses operating safely. I want to see businesses thrive and develop, I want to see people enjoying lunch while breastfeeding, without worry.
How did you find out about RSPH and what do you enjoy most about your membership?
Being a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health provides recognition of my academic, professional achievements, as well as my continuing commitment, hard work, passion and dedication to protecting the public. RSPH is one of the world's longest-established public health bodies and it’s a forward-thinking organisation, tackling the public health issues their members care about.
I welcomed the Fellowship with open arms, and hope that it will help raise the profile of Environmental Health and encourage Environmental Health Practitioners to undertake further professional development, seeking professional certification and recognition where possible. It also provides an opportunity to engage with the Public Health sector and build partnerships, with the potential for further joint working.
The training the RSPH has to offer is outstanding and aimed at all Public Health professional levels and areas of interest. The most recent CPD I undertook was the “Control of Clostridium Perfringens Bacteria” webinar in July 2022.
I’m very proud to hold the FRSPH letters after my name
What do you do to take care of your own health and wellbeing?
I have participated in numerous marathons, half marathons and triathlons, but concentrate more on endurance swimming these days - that’s the adrenaline junkie in me! I relax and take care of my mind through looking after our rescue animals. We currently have two adorable dogs, two donkeys, numerous chickens and ducks and soon to have two Pygmy goats who need a good home and some love and attention.