homeWednesday 30th September 2020

Food standards ‘patchy’ in England

Katie Coyne06/12/2018 - 14:31

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Food standards delivery is 'patchy'
Food standards delivery is 'patchy'

Food standards delivery could be described as ‘patchy’ in England where the resources available to deliver the system are 50% lower than in Wales and Northern Ireland, according to the FSA’s LAEMS data.

The FSA's review of food standards delivery found that 22 per cent of English local authorities have less than one full time equivalent person to carry out food standards work.

Overall 15 per cent of food businesses were unrated for food standards risk, although this was higher for some individual local authorities.

Local authorities were also finding it difficult to recruit qualified officers, according to the report, and 57 per cent did not have the resources to support a student through the qualification process.

The review is part of a larger piece of work, aimed at improving food standards delivery, within the FSA’s Regulating our Future Programme (RoF).

CIEH head of policy Tony Lewis said: ‘When you look at the picture for England it’s clear something needs to happen. This situation cannot continue.”

‘There is no doubt that the responsibility for regulation of food standards needs to be re-examined in England. This is an ongoing project by the FSA in which CIEH is playing an active role.’

Food standards is dealt with by Trading Standards in the majority of cases in England, although in unitary authorities and in Northern Ireland and Wales it's environmental health. 

Many countries do not distinguish between food standards and food safety activities, and do not have different professionals carrying it out. CIEH has previously advocated the development of a ‘holistic food officer’ that would cover all areas of food regulation.’

FSA chair Heather Hancock said: 'Our results show that food standards delivery is hampered by inadequate resources, and an out of date and inflexible approach to regulation.

‘Whilst the position varies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it clearly demands action and we can’t just patch this up.’

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