Local supplier food safety scheme hailed as triumph

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Foodservice, Local food, Tesco

A food safety approval scheme aimed at making life easier for smaller local manufacturers has proved a success since its launch in March 2007,...

A food safety approval scheme aimed at making life easier for smaller local manufacturers has proved a success since its launch in March 2007, according to the scheme’s promoters.

The ‘Safe and Legal’ (Salsa) scheme is backed by several major retailers and foodservice operators and increasing numbers of companies are signing up to it.

Salsa was designed to help small local food and drink producers demonstrate at a reasonable cost that they meet the standards expected by national buyers. It has opened new opportunities to supply retailers, hotels, restaurants and caterers both locally and nationally. The initiative was developed by the British Retail Consortium in association with the British Hospitality Association (BHA), Food and Drink Federation and National Farmers’ Union. It has the support of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency.

To date the scheme has attracted 480 on-line registrations to its web site​, which contains a directory of approved suppliers. There have been 65 audits successfully completed and 167 Salsa members are currently working towards approval. The scheme is supported by Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury, caterer Eat and foodservice operator 3663 - which is creating Salsa buyers’ groups in all UK regions involving hundreds of companies - and Elior UK. While Tesco has not yet shown any firm interest, Morrison and Budgens have.

A ‘Salsa-plus’ audit scheme has also been set up in conjunction with the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, according to BHA Salsa co-ordinator Keris Marsden. She added that Assured Food Standards, the quality assurance group responsible for the Red Tractor mark, had also encouraged its primary suppliers to apply for Salsa accreditation.

Locally-based evaluators employed by the scheme facilitate the approval process. Locally-based mentors can be made available to provide advice and assistance to small businesses on issues such as food safety, equipment purchase, training and systems. For some small companies, which require as much as 10 days of mentoring, financial support can be provided by regional food groups.

A Salsa stakeholder conference - also open to interested suppliers - is being held on January 17 to provide an update on the scheme’s development at Browns restaurant, St Martin’s Lane, London. For more details contact Keris Marsden xrevf.znefqra@oun.bet.hx

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