Besides imported food , the Port Health division is involved with public health matters at the Gatwick Airport.
In the UK there is no single central government department responsible for public health at an international airport. There are a range of public health duties which can be found in national, European and international legislation. At Gatwick, a number of different organisations are responsible for different aspects of public health.
The following legislation covers certain aspects of public health on aircraft and at the airport:
The International Health Regulations are published by the World Health Organization (WHO). These regulations are not directly enforced but have to be adopted by each member country. In the UK some, but not all, of the provisions have been implemented by the Public Health (Aircraft) (Amendment) Regulations 2007.
The Public Health (Aircraft) Regulations are due to be replaced by the Health Protection (Ships and Aircraft) Regulations. A consultation on the draft regulations was published by the Department of Health.
Crawley Borough Council and Public Health England (PHE) have a joint responsibility for certain aspects of the regulations. In particular this includes:
The International Health Regulations came into force on 15 June 2007. They are concerned with the control of the international spread of disease and the response to a public health emergency.
Gatwick Airport has been declared as a Designated Airport by the Department of Health. This designation is currently administrative rather than legislative.
Airports can become designated if they have the Core Capacity for surveillance and response during a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Core Capacity requirements can be found in Annex 1 to the International Health Regulations 2005.
The Competent Authority responsible for implementing the International Health Regulations into UK law is the Department of Health. The operational lead, however, is the responsibility of Public Health England (PHE). PHE will coordinate the UK response to an International emergency.
In the UK, the National Focal Point (as defined in the International Health Regulations) is located within the PHE.
Aircraft Disinsection is concerned with the measures used by airlines to kill insect vectors of human disease, in particular mosquitoes.
Annex 5 of the International Health Regulations 2005 states that the 'World Health Organisation (WHO) shall publish, on a regular basis, a list of areas where disinsection or other vector control measures are recommended for conveyances arriving from these areas.’
The list of areas is a globally contentious issue and a list has yet to be published by the WHO. In the meantime, it is recommended that airlines use another WHO publication; International Travel and Health which provides the latest position for two mosquito-borne diseases; malaria and yellow fever.
In the UK, the Department of Health does not have any policy or guidance on this issue.
In 2006, the European Commission banned the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant for controlling rodents on board aircraft. Airlines are requested to contact their contracted pest controller to ensure that they have a procedure for dealing with incidents involving rodents on-board aircraft.
The Food Safety (Ships and Aircraft) (England and Scotland) Order 2003 gave powers to authorised officers to enter aircraft for food safety purposes.
Crawley Borough Council's Environmental Health Department has been involved in developing a questionnaire to seek information about airlines operating out of Gatwick.
Co-ordination of activity in this area has been agreed with other airport local authorities attending an Association of Port Health Authorities Airports Working Group.
Airlines have been requested to register as a Food Business Operator with a local authority of their choice. That local authority will then take the lead in carrying out the food hygiene inspections of aircraft for that particular airline. This approach was taken to avoid duplication and to comply with the Food Standards Agency Code of Practice and Practice Guidance concerning Inspection of Aircraft.
The definition of food includes water. The quality of water supplied to aircraft is also monitored.
In order to control the introduction of diseases, unused catering supplies containing meat, fish, dairy products etc. have to be subject to controlled disposal. Such food items are classed as animal by-products.
The following legislation applies:
The duty to comply with this legislation rests with the person who is in possession of the international catering waste.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for approving landfill sites for the disposal of international catering waste. They also monitor the flight caterers and aircraft cleaning companies in the disposal of such waste at the airport.
Enforcement rests with either Crawley Borough Council at the airport or West Sussex County Council (Trading Standards) outside of the airport e.g. the flight caterers.
If items have been in contact with the controlled products e.g. packaging material, disposable cutlery, plates etc, then these items are also required to be disposed of as animal by-products.
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