Food hygiene inspectors in Wales are
being trained to develop a "sixth sense" for things that are
badly wrong, the First Minister Rhodri Morgan said.
He told AMs, inspectors had to be
able to tell the difference between "life or death bad
practice" and a misdemeanour.
He was responding to an inquiry into
Wales' worst E-coli 0157 outbreak, in which a five-year-old boy died and
156 others, mostly children, became ill.
Butcher William Tudor was jailed
after admitting supplying contaminated meat.
Mr Morgan said the chair of the
inquiry, Professor Hugh Pennington, laid the blame for the outbreak
"squarely on the shoulders of William Tudor", who supplied raw
and cooked meat for schools in Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly
and Merthyr Tydfil.
But he said that was no reason to
lose sight of the general conclusion that the systems in place at the
time "should have been sufficient to prevent it".
are not necessarily good box-tickers, and good box-tickers are not
necessarily good inspectors.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan
Mason Jones, five, of Deri, in
Bargoed, Caerphilly County, died after he ate contaminated cooked meat.
Forty-four schools across the south
Wales valleys were affected in the outbreak and 156 people were made ill.
It was the largest outbreak of its
kind in Wales, the second biggest in the UK and the sixth largest
Prof Pennington, a microbiologist who
also investigated an E.coli outbreak in Lanarkshire in 1996, said the
outbreak was "particularly shocking" because the systems
regulating food safety at the time had been reformed as a result of the
He said the only systems which did
their job in the outbreak were in control and clinical, and there had
been failures everywhere else.
Mr Morgan said the Pennington report
"shone a clear light upon those areas where short-comings were
evident and where mistakes had been made".
He said: "As so often, it's not
the systems, it's how well or how badly those systems work.
"Good inspectors are not
necessarily good box-tickers, and good box-tickers are not necessarily
"Training has to focus on
distinguishing between what is a life or death bit of bad practice and
what is just a minor misdemeanour in procedure.
"The training of inspectors and
their managers is also being examined with the aim of making this more
comprehensive, helping them develop a sixth sense of what is potentially
Mr Morgan said all 22 local
authorities in Wales were reviewing their policies, procedures and
systems in the light of the inquiry report and he would provide a written
statement those reviews when they had been completed.
He added that health and care
agencies were also looking again at their "out-of-hours"
communications procedures to make sure that they were tested and were
working as required.
He said assembly government was
seeking technical advice over the scientific methods of identifying
E.coli 0157 and the cattle most prone to spreading it, to see if better
methods can be developed.