Brick Lane in London has many food businesses
Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to press ahead with plans to
recover the costs of regulation from food businesses.
An overhaul of the official food controls system could see poor-performing
businesses expected to pay more than those with better safety records.
It is the first time the FSA has publically stated its
intention to recover costs in this way. In 2012 it unsuccessfully attempted to
implement cost recovery for meat inspections, a measure opposed by farmers.
The proposals will be considered as part of a ‘stakeholder
event’ on 10 February as part of widespread changes to food controls. The
agency fears local authorities are struggling to keep up with existinginspection regimes due to dwindling resources.
A paper put to the FSA board said: ‘The responsibility for
funding this system should increasingly pass from the taxpayer to businesses,
with those businesses with the most proactive approach to demonstrating their
dedication to food safety paying less than those who require a higher level of
The agency said the current regulatory regime ‘relies
largely on physical inspection’ and that other sources of data on food
businesses should be pursued.
The paper said: ‘Inspections carried out by government staff
are just a small part of an enormous array of potential sources of assurance,
which we could be using to focus our efforts ever more precisely on the
businesses who need the most help to come up to standard.
‘We will consider all sources of information, irrespective
of whether it is us or a third party doing the check. We will also consider
sources of data that do not derive from inspections.’
Earlier this month the incoming FSA chair HeatherHancock indicated the food controls regulatory regime would be ‘redesigned’within three years.
In November chancellor George Osborne
announced the FSA would receive £85.4m a year from 2015/16 until 2020. In
2014/15 the FSA’s budget was £108m.