A work shop was held by DEFRA/FSA to discuss with the Food industry the approaches to be taken by enforcement agencies in relation to the Food Information Regulation when it comes into force on December 13th 2014.
Key points made at the workshop were:
- Industry/retail generally felt that while the content of the FIR 2014 Technical Guidance was useful, the timing was not and that the guidance would have been more beneficial 1½ to 2 years ago .
- It was mentioned that many small businesses were not aware that guidance existed and that there is a large gap in terms of what information is wanted and what is available
- Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) Received Royal Assent on 1st May 2012. The changes have not yet commenced, and need to be accompanied by regulations. They have been laid in draft but have not been debated and, due to Parliamentary recess, the opportunity to debate the Regulations will be in the autumn
- LASPO removes the upper limit to magistrates powers when imposing fines for both summary and either way offences .Once the Regulations are made (expected to be by end of this year), any reference to level 5 fines in existing legislation (including FIR 2014) will automatically become a reference just to a fine i.e. an unlimited fine
- FSA advises proportionate approach to enforcement – that is, hierarchy of enforcement / advice on food issues.
- For consistency, all enforcement officers i.e. Trading Standards Officers/ EHO’s should follow the same principles.
- Guidance on enforcement of FIR and the use of Improvement Notices is to be published as part of the FSA’s Code of Practice Guidance. (We are on the working group overseeing the changes)
The BHA has produced guidance for the Hospitality industry on the requirements for providing information to consumers on Allergenic ingredients including a toolkit which is available on the website www.bha.org.uk/allergen-toolkit