An organisation dedicated to improving food safety held its inaugural meeting last week, as caterers continued to absorb the impact of the UK's worst ever food poisoning outbreak in Lanarkshire.
The Food Safety Association, whose patron is Albert Roux, aims to provide a forum for all those who have an interest in food safety and quality.
The association, founded by former environmental health officer Bill Bates, will provide expertise and research on all matters of food safety. It will also offer members legal representation and training at all levels.
"Sources of information on food safety tend to be very fractionalised. We will develop and maintain a food data bank and bring people together for important discussions in relation to food," Mr Bates said.
A telephone helpline for members and consumers will also be a key aspect of the organisation.
The association, which will have offices at Staffordshire University, is seeking charitable status and is also hoping to be awarded lottery funding.
Caterers, hoteliers and breweries are being invited to join, as well as suppliers, equipment manufacturers and academics.
Meanwhile, restaurant and pub operators, including Burger King and Whitbread Inns, and local authority caterers have been re-emphasising the need for correct cooking and personal hygiene to their staff, following the E coli disaster in Scotland.
School meals caterer Shire Services last week held a special half-day training course on food safety. The course was intended to "reinforce the message on E coli and make sure we are constantly vigilant", said general manager John Davis.
As Caterer went to press the Government announced the formation of a cabinet committee on food hygiene to respond to the food poisoning crisis.