Food Standards Agency poised to make changes to the way food safety compliance is regulated

FSA-700-700x336The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has stated it’s committed to developing a new model for food and feed controls.

Consumers have a right to information to help them make informed choices about food and businesses must be transparent and honest in the provision of this.

The FSA recognises the variation in types and size of food businesses and accepts that there needs to be different levels of support and scrutiny for different businesses.

In the past, enforcement mainly consisted of inspections and little else. However, in the future it will be necessary for regulators to take into account and review all available sources of information to determine compliance.

This is the beginning of something called “earned recognition” where information from other sources can be used by regulators such as local authority Environmental Health Practitioners. For example, third party audits already carried out for businesses by food safety consultancies could provide data, together with information from consumers and other regulators. The aim is to avoid repetitive audits and share data.

The idea is that businesses that are well managed should be recognised, and poor businesses who put consumers at risk receive greater scrutiny. In other words, limited local authority resources will focus on those businesses that are not complying.

A further principle is that businesses should meet the cost of regulation, and those needing the greatest regulatory intervention should therefore contribute the most.

What is happening next?

The BHA is one of a number of stakeholders who are working with the FSA on a way forward. We are keen to ensure that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme has a more fair appeals process, and timelier revisits to reduce the burden on business.

There also needs to be a framework for competent and consistent inspection and it is hoped that the new BHA Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering will help with this as an inspection standard, together with the Food Hygiene Rating Guidance.

The guide will be available in hard copy (unit price £16 exc.VAT), as a downloadable PDF unit price (£10 exc.VAT) and the BHA will also be producing a unique interactive app containing the guide with search by topics. The Guide is available to pre-order now. Please fill in the form below. If you are experiencing problems or require any further information on the Guide, please email guidance@bha.org.uk and a member of the team will be in touch.

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