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Port Health Authority food hygiene and safety

The Authority is responsible for checking the standard of food hygiene and sanitation on board ships and at shore-based food premises within our district such as dockside canteens and warehouses.

The Food Hygiene (Ships and Aircraft) Order 2003 applies the same food hygiene regulatory regime to ships as is applicable to shore based food premises. All shore based food businesses in our area must, however, also register their premises with the Authority before trading commences and to display the appropriate food hygiene rating sticker. See link for our 'Enforcement Policy' which includes our food safety enforcement service plan, and our policy for dealing with any complaints regarding the standard of service we provide.

Our officers carry out programmed sanitation and food hygiene inspections of ships and premises on a risk-assessed basis according to the code of practice and the framework agreement issued by the Food Standards Agency. The inspection will take a number of factors into account including management systems (including stock control); food storage and preparation equipment and facilities; storage and quality of water for cooking and drinking; food temperature controls; pest control measures; and food hygiene awareness amongst food handlers.

Documentation related to these factors will also be examined. We liaise with other port health authorities through the Association of Port Health Authorities (APHA) and the EU-wide Shipsantrainet project with the aim of sharing of good practice and enforcement consistency. Ship inspection data will be shared, confidentially, between port health authorities. Inspection reports may also be published.

Drinking water

Water quality on board ships can be affected by the integrity of the initial supply or its contamination once on board. We regularly sample supplies on board ships and at shore-side premises, supply points and distribution lines for examination by microbiologists at the Public Health Laboratory at Glangwilli Hospital, Carmarthen. Ship water samples, including those to identify the presence of Legionella; and for chemical analysis, taken at the request of the ship may be the subject of a charge that includes a certificated report.

Water quality standards

ParameterAcceptable levelAction level
Escherichia coli0>1 per 100 ml
Enterococci0>1 per 100 ml
Coliform bacteria0>1 per 100 ml <100
 Pseudomonas aeruginosa (spa pools)0>1 per 100 ml
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (swim pools)50>50 per 100 ml


Escherichia coli (E. coli):Unable to grow in the environment, this bacteria is found in human, animal and bird faeces and is therefore used as an indicator of faecal contamination.
Enterococci:Presence indicates contamination by human or animal faeces.
Coliform bacteria:Also indicate faecal contamination, poor hygiene, or inadequate water treatment.
Aerobic colony count:Indicates the disinfection efficiency of the water supply and operating system
Pseudomonas:Indicates inadequate system maintenance. Thrives in warm conditions and can cause skin / ear / urinary tract infection and pneumonia.
Legionella:A potentially fatal pneumonia contracted from inhalation of water vapour. Click link below for advice about the disease, its symptoms, where the bacteria can be found and control measures.

HSE have advice about Legionella and Legionnaires' disease (opens new window).


The most commonly used compounds for disinfecting drinking water are powders (chlorinated lime and high test hypochlorite) and liquids (commercially prepared sodium hypochlorite solution). A 50 ppm chlorine solution should be added to the ship's water tank when almost empty followed by refilling with fresh water whilst the distribution line outlets are open until they discharge water smelling of chlorine. The system should then be topped up with fresh chlorine solution to replace water lost by draining. The system should then be left to allow sufficient contact time of between 1 and 24 hours depending on the concentration of the added solution. The system should then be drained and refilled with fresh water having a residual free chlorine content of not less than 0.2ppm at the furthest outlet.

Shellfish harvests

A variety of shellfish are harvested from waters within the Authority's area of jurisdiction. Of greatest bacteriological concern are filter feeders, mostly bivalve molluscs, particularly those from estuaries and inshore waters where faecal contamination is more likely. Oysters pose the greatest potential to cause food poisoning since they are usually eaten uncooked.

EU Shellfish Directives require beds, from which shellfish are commercially harvested, to be classified following a sanitary survey identifying potential sources of pollution and establishing sample points to monitor the bacteriological quality. The biotoxin content of the shellfish and in the waters in which the harvest beds lay is also monitored.

Registration documents issued by the Authority must accompany shellfish harvested commercially within our district. A member of the South West Wales Local Action Group, the Authority liaises closely with adjacent local authorities and other regulatory bodies and partners involved in local shellfish harvesting. The Authority is also a member of the Swansea Bay Fisheries Local Action Group (SBFLAG) .

Imported food and feed

Imported food of animal origin: Currently there are no border inspection posts in Wales through which the importation of non-EU imported food of animal origin is allowed.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing controls: All fishery products imported from non-EU sources must be checked and verified. This is in addition to the usual import checks on such products.

Imported food of non-animal origin: Such food cargoes are checked to ensure compliance with appropriate regulations. Consignments must comply with food safety, labelling and traceability requirements. Imports are sampled for analysis and/or microbiological examination and cargoes may be detained pending sample results - importers are advised to plan accordingly. Rejected consignments are destroyed or re-exported according to risk at the owner's expense. In some circumstances they may be allowed to proceed, under strict supervision for purposes other than for human consumption. Under the EU Regulation (EC 669/2009) certain types of high-risk food cargoes (such as nuts, figs and vine fruits) may only be imported at designated points of entry.

Organic imports:  The Organic Products Regulations 2009 require that imports of organic produce must be notified to the Authority in advance of arrival. Each consignment must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection from the country of origin.

Personal food imports: Advice on bringing food into Great Britain (opens new window) is available on the website.