The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published plans for future food regulation. The document called Regulating our future – why food regulation needs to change and how we are going to do it, outlines the changes it sees as essential to build a modern, risk-based, robust and resilient system.
Heather Hancock, the FSA chairman, says there are compelling reasons for changing the food regulation system. “We need to reform the way we regulate to keep up with the pace of changes in the global food economy: in what we eat, where we consume it, how it reaches us,” she explains. “It is important we act now rather than wait for the system to falter, risking damaging consequences for public health and trust in food.”
The plans include an enhanced system of registration for businesses in an attempt to secure better information on all businesses to identify and manage risk across the food chain.
According to Julian Edwards FCSI, the chair of FCSI UK & Ireland, this means the future is bright for those organisations with robust compliance and food safety systems but less so for those without.
“The use of online registration coupled with more detailed information, from new start-ups, will result in a more efficient system and greater data collection for the FSA,” he says. “The FSA has fully embraced the need to make itself more agile and adopt new technology to save on time and money.”
Other key plans include an improved business segmentation system and more efficient compliance checks. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme will continue to operate in the same manner as it currently does and the FSA will work towards ensuring display becomes mandatory in England as it is currently in Wales and Northern Ireland.
“We at the FCSI (UK&I) fully support these modern plans and innovations and will participate whenever and wherever possible,” says Edwards. “This ensures that the advice we give to clients is always up to date and accurate.”
Hancock concedes that change might bring uncertainty for businesses, but says being proactive is vital. “We want to ensure that food regulation in the future is fit for purpose, anticipates and responds to emerging risks and uses new technology and data to evidence that food businesses are fulfilling their obligations to be safe and authentic,” she says.
The reformed system is expected to be in place after 2020.
The FCSI will keep members updated on the plans in due course. For more information, visit: www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/regulation/regulating-our-future.