BBC and Observer cover our latest research

Monday, 2 May 2016

BBC Five Live Investigates yesterday covered our new report, by Professor Steve Tombs, highlighting the lack of effective regulation of pollution, food safety and workplace health and safety standards in the UK.

The programme looked at the health risks associated with a decline in food hygiene and other inspections.

Between 2004 and 2015, at Local Authority level, there were:

  • 35% fewer food standards inspections and 35% fewer prosecutions
  • 69% fewer health and safety inspections and 60% fewer prosecutions
  • 55% fewer environmental health inspections and 30% fewer prosecutions.

The programme heard from Debbie, a woman in Kirby, whose 10 year old daughter was hospitalised with salmonella poisoning. She was one of over 50 people in the area who contracted the illness after eating food from a takeaway.

Contrary to Food Standards Agency statutory guidance, the business had not been formally inspected in 2 years.

The research was also covered by The Observer newspaper, which focused on the report findings on the poor regulation of air quality and its effects on public health.

Last week the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee attacked the government for failing to tackle pollution. It warned that 40,000-50,000 premature deaths a year in the UK were caused by a failure to adequately tackle cardiac, respiratory and other diseases linked to air pollution.

The Committee called for clean air zones – currently being introduced in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, targeting drivers of high-polluting vehicles – to be extended to more cities in England.

The free market Adam Smith Institute dismissed our new report, saying that it amounted to the claim that 'This is the result of Tory austerity and Yah! Boo! How Terrible!'.

The report author, Steve Tombs, has written a response to the Adam Smith Institute here.