The FSA board endorsed a report calling for a more collaborative approach with stakeholders when considering reform of official controls at a meeting this week (September 12). The subject had caused conflict between the FSA and processors in the past.
A key recommendation in the report, ‘Strategy On Charging For Meat Official Controls’, was that: “The FSA should pursue a more collaborative approach with stakeholders interested in these issues, working in partnership to deliver shared outcomes.”
It added that priority should be given to building a more consensual approach in three areas. Those were:
- A review of the current discount system making recommendations on how to reform the system to address anomalies;
- Joint working to identify further ways to reduce costs while continuing to deliver effective consumer protection, building on the outcomes of an efficiency review;
- Exploring with stakeholders the options for alternative delivery models, including through the use of a control body.
The report also recommended that an external efficiency review of the delivery of official meat controls. The FSA will seek “political sponsorship” to have the review carried out by the government’s public sector watchdog, the National Audit Office.
The FSA has long believed that it should not administer subsidies, such as the one required to sustain the meat control system. The report recommended discussions with other government departments about taking on responsibility for the subsidies.
After the meeting the FSA chair Jeff Rooker, said: “We are moving into a new chapter of collaboration with the meat industry.”
Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), said: “The BMPA warmly welcomes the FSA board’s endorsement of the executive’s proposals for a new approach to partnership working with industry on a range of key meat inspection issues.
“We are heartened the board welcomed the BMPA’s outline proposals for an alternative approach to the delivery of meat inspections, and we will be having detailed discussions with the FSA on these ideas.”
Rossides, who had criticised the FSA in the past over its allegedly intransigent stance, said: “The board’s endorsement of the executive’s proposals paves the way to a more open and collaborative working relationship between industry and the FSA on important strategic issues, as the BMPA has been urging for some time.”