Small firms angered by hygiene proposals: quotes

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Small business, Business

A petition against the changes has so far attracted more than 1,100 signatures
A petition against the changes has so far attracted more than 1,100 signatures
Small food and drink firms are outraged by EU proposals to hit them with charges for hygiene inspections, despite previous moves to ensure they would be exempt.

Here, we outline some of the responses so far to the proposals, as outlined on a petition being compiled by Bob Salmon, food law expert and a director at Food Solutions. At the time this article was published, the initiative had attracted 1,182 signatures.

Salmon aims to use the petition to press Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to block the proposals, which according to him could see food and drink manufacturers paying up to £500 for every hygiene inspection.

  • “Small food producers cannot afford extra unnecessary red tape.”
  • “We are small organic poultry producers and this would put us out of business.”
  • “I am a micro food business that can’t foot more bills.”

‘Huge impact’

  • “As a small business owner this would have a huge impact on us. We agree with the need for regulation but this is and has always been the role of a government agency. What’s next? The fire service charging people for coming out to put out a house fire?!”
  • “If the proposed inspections took place and we had to pay for them, the likelihood would be that this would eat considerably into our profits – something that can be avoided.”
  • “Surely there is a potential conflict of interest if we are paying directly to those that are policing us!”

‘Burden and resentment’

  • “The proposed charges are critically expensive for small businesses. They will further aggravate a relationship which should be about working together with inspectorates, not one of burden and resentment.”
  • “This will have a knock-on effect across the industry – the small food producer will have even less money to be able to produce their amazing artisan products that offer an alternative to the poor quality, low nutritional foods made by huge producers.”
  • “If businesses are to pay then they should have a proper say and influence on how inspections should be made and what inspectors qualifications and knowledge of business activities are. So many food businesses are lumped together and it is difficult to judge and inspect properly without being fully and professionally equipped to do so.”

‘Unnecessary extra expense’

  • “For us it’s important because we have a thorough BRC ​[British Retail Consortium] accreditation inspection annually and this is an unnecessary extra expense. For small businesses generally, it’s going to discourage them from wanting involvement with the local food inspector and it’s a lot of money for a small business.”
  • “The growing artisan food sector should be supported not inhibited. This is more than a week’s profit for some small producers and will quickly destroy the growing number of small artisan producers that are helping to save our planet, create jobs, offer consumer choice, variety and most importantly great tasting food.”

Signatories included The Specialist Cheesemakers Association, representing more than 180 small businesses (cheesemakers and retailers), which also urged MEPs to restore the exemption.

For more on the background to this issue, read our separate article​.

Have your say on the proposals - post a comment on this story.

Related topics: Food Safety, Hygiene, safety & cleaning

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Missing the point

Posted by Simon W,

This article is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. The original exemption of micro-enterprises had no basis in terms of risk, and the dividing line was arbitrary (less than 10 employees and a balance sheet/ turnover of less than £2million). The issue here is whether a public good such as monitoring the safety of food should be funded by industry or from general taxation.

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FSA's Earned Recognition Programme - a solution?

Posted by Jim Flynn,

The FSA supposedly has an earned recognition programme that if implemented properly would help minimise these charges. We see and hear very little about it but it IS there in the background but I believe not fully implemented by any stretch of the imagination.

It's about time the regulator implemented this fully and in advance of these charges. In this way those that are actively seen to be operating to the highest standards go longer between inspections (and pay less overall) whilst the laggards get inspected more regularly and pay more. We then get an increase in standards and reduced risk in the system.

Ultimately, enforcement resources are currently being decimated by cuts and someone has to pay for this very valuable public service, its either higher taxes or industry funded.

In my opinion a combination of charging plus a decent regulator run earned recognition scheme would meet the need.

If a business can afford to invest a few hundred pounds for an inspection then they are clearly not doing something correctly and should not be selling food to consumers.

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