£4m food inspection suite opened at Port of Felixstowe

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MPopening the new ambient-temperature food examination facility a

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MPopening the new ambient-temperature food examination facility at the Port of Felixstowe, with the port's chief executive, Clemence Cheng. - Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller

A new £4million ambient-temperature food cargo examination facility was officially opened at the Port of Felixstowe today by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill.

The 3,045 sq m project has involved a major refurbishment and expansion of the suite and provision of new offices for the Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority.

Mr Goodwill said: “This new state-of-the-art facility will ensure that vital imported products stay as fresh as possible.

“Some 40% of the food on our supermarket shelves arrives by sea, so it must be checked efficiently in the most hygienic conditions. The significant investment currently under way across the UK means our major ports remain world leaders, contributing billions to the UK economy and creating thousands of skilled jobs.”

Steve Gallant, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinet member for community health, said: “The new inspection facilities are built to an incredibly high standard – safe, clean and hygienic – to maintain the integrity of the food chain to the highest requirements of upcoming legislation.

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“We have a very productive partnership with the Port of Felixstowe, and this is delivering best practice in terms of Port Health.

“Now our staff are next door to each other, we can get examinations done even more quickly. Being neighbours will also allow a closer understanding of each other’s business and that can only lead to even better efficiency and effectiveness in the future.”

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Clemence Cheng, chief executive at the Port of Felixstowe, said the ambient-temperature facility was an example of the port’s commitment to investment to ensure customers receive the highest possible levels of service.

He said: “The dedication of our experienced examination facilities team, and the close working relationship they have with the port health authority, will ensure that together we deliver the very best, most efficient inspection process of any UK port.”

Besides the main 3,045 sq m space, the new facility includes a further 840 sq m of office space and meeting rooms for both port and port health staff. Separate examination chambers, including segregated areas for dusty products such as chilli, spices and other powders, allow multiple consignments to be examined without the risk of contamination.

The Port of Felixstowe is the largest container port in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. It is part of the Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Group, a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.

The HPH network of port operations comprises 319 berths in 52 ports, spanning 26 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia.

Over the years, HPH has expanded internationally into other logistics and transportation-related businesses, including include cruise ship terminals (one of these being at Harwich International Port, across the water from Felixstowe), airport operations, distribution centres, rail services, and ship repair facilities. In 2014, the HPH port network handled a combined container throughput of 82.9million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) worldwide.

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