The situation had been unclear at the start of 2015, with some quarters suggesting standalone cold store operators handling animal by-products would have to fork out additional fees for approval audits, Sturman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
However, he said he had recently received assurances from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the FSDF’s Slough Primary Authority team that this would not happen.
Environmental health officers
The approval scheme, which is still going ahead and is provided for under EU Regulation 853/2004 but was not applied previously in UK, would update the existing longstanding registration scheme, said Sturman.
It is driven by the FSA and is being administered and enforced by local authority environmental health officers (EHOs).
Cold stores up to and including retailers’ regional distribution centres handling meat by-products post-slaughter are covered by the new regime, including those in foodservice and retail sectors.
Approval by March 2016
The scheme is being rolled out over the next 12 months, with all relevant sites requiring approval by March 2016.
“A number of stores have already been approached by EHOs,” said Sturman. “There’s a difference in approach depending on the authority.”
The costs of the programme look set to be integrated into the usual running costs for EHOs and local councils, he added.
The FSDF, the British Frozen Food Federation and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors aim to collaborate on producing industry guidance concerning the issue.
Questions remained over the implementation of the scheme and the precise products it would cover and the trade associations aimed to clarify these aspects, said Sturman.
Meanwhile, the food industry remains fearful that it will have to bear the costs of meat hygiene inspections under new EU rules. Discussions continue over the topic and a final decision is not expected until the end of this year.