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Olympic powers held up

Tom Wall14/03/2012 - 13:00

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Street vendors are expected to set up near the Olympics
Street vendors are expected to set up near the Olympics

Powers needed to more effectively police street food vendors and mobile caterers during the Olympic Games have been delayed in England.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) told EHN that the government’s Regulatory Policy Committee, which examines regulatory changes, had asked for more information about its proposal to extend of Remedial Action Notices (RANs) to all food businesses in time for the Olympics.

‘They want clarification on the impact assessment. They want more detail on which businesses are affected and the costs and benefits. They want further information about non-legislative options,’ said a spokesperson.

The RPC confirmed it had issued an opinion to the FSA, but told EHN that ‘due to the confidential nature of our work’ it was ‘not in a position to discuss the contents of the opinion’.

The FSA said the powers, which currently only apply to slaughterhouses, were needed because many temporary food businesses were expected to start trading during the Olympics.

‘Ensuring food safety at the games is a key objective for the UK government, and it is essential that risks from these new food operations are properly controlled. RANs will provide a proportionate, rapid and effective enforcement tool to ensure that food businesses quickly address non-compliances with food law that pose a food safety risk,’ said a spokesperson.

Tay Potier, CIEH London regional policy officer, said she hoped RANs would be in place for the Olympics.

‘We very much hope that remedial action notices will be in place in England in time for the Olympics as we see they will be a useful tool for officers in helping ensure food hygiene standards during the games,’ said Ms Potier.

RANs allow EHOs to force food businesses to address serious but not imminent threats to public health, such as pest infestations or operating without hot water.

Currently, EHOs can only serve a prohibition notices closing down a food business if they are sure they can prove it poses an imminent risk to public health in the courts.

The extension of RANs will be implemented in Scotland on 1 April, Northern Ireland on 6 April and Wales on 1 May, as originally planned.

The FSA said it could not give a new date for England but would try to get the changes approved by the Olympic Games in July.

‘We do not have an alternative coming into force date at present, but, subject to further views from the committees, we still aim to introduce the England extension prior to the commencement of the Olympic Games in July 2012,’ states an FSA letter to heads of environmental health in England.

The FSA added that RANs were needed for all major national events and not just the Olympics.

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