New council pilot to use interpreters

Carrickfergus Borough Council’s Environmental Health department is to introduce a new programme to aid communications with ethnic minority businesses in the town.

Devised and funded in conjunction with the local authority’s Good Relations Office, the pilot programme will see the use of translated letters and, if needed, an interpreter to accompany inspection visits.

In a short report presented to the council’s Environmental Services Committee on Monday evening, members were told: “Over the past two years the Environmental Health department has noted that the number of ethnic minority food businesses where there are difficulties communicating with the owner and staff due to them having limited written and spoken English has increased.”

While all the business owners are making efforts to improve their English, councillors were told, there were sometimes occasions where officers were not clear that a business was meeting all the requirements of the Food Hygiene regulations due to various problems with communication.

To deal with the problem and to ensure standards of food hygiene are maintained or improved, the department’s pilot will arrange for some premises to receive translated letters.

Meanwhile, the programme will also allow the Environmental Health officer to be accompanied by an interpreter during an inspection visit, if needed.

“In due course the department will evaluate whether the standards in those premises who received the translation services have improved and consider if this should be included as the routine way of working with ethnic minority food businesses,” the report concluded.