FSA accepts criticism over food hygiene variations

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

The FSA accepted criticism over wide discrepancies in food hygiene standards
The FSA accepted criticism over wide discrepancies in food hygiene standards

Related tags: Food standards agency

Warnings about wide discrepancies in food hygiene standards, from the consumer pressure group Which?, have been accepted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The chance of buying from a food business that failed to meet hygiene standards could be as high as one in three, claimed Which?

Hyndburn, Lancashire had the lowest rating of hygiene compliance, with 35% of medium and high-risk businesses meeting acceptable hygiene standards. Birmingham was second from bottom – out of 386 – with a 59% compliancy rate.

Erewash, Derbyshire had the best compliancy rate at 97%. Eden, Cumbria was second, with a 96% compliancy rate.

Taking ‘appropriate measures’

The FSA said it was taking “appropriate measures to act on authorities with the lowest levels of performance to help them to secure improvements”​.

The study assessed the hygiene standards of 386 local authorities across the UK.

Meanwhile, Which? also criticised the FSA’s plan to use third-party food hygiene inspectors. Third parties employed by businesses, in place of checks by public authorities, would not be a robust system and would raise conflicts of interest, Which? claimed.

With Article 50 being triggered this week, Which? said an independent system was more important than ever before.

Which? md of home services Alex Neill said: “People expect their food to be safe, but there is clearly still work to be done.

“As we prepare to leave the EU, the government and regulators need to ensure that there is a robust, independent system of enforcement in place to give people confidence that the food they’re eating is hygienic.”

Developing future regulation

But, the FSA said third-parties would play a key role in developing the future of regulation.

FSA chair Heather Hancock said: “We think Which? is incorrect to doubt the use of third-parties in assuring business compliance. We believe third-parties will have an important role to play in a robust and sustainable future system of regulation.

“However, any use of third-party assurance will be regulated by us and we will set clear and rigorous standards that we expect industry to comply with.”

Elsewhere, last week a Stoke-on-Trent bakery was ordered to close over hygiene concerns, including dirty work surfaces and “mouldy growths”​. The bakery was found open for business the next day.

FSA’s third-party food hygiene plan under fire

  • Which? claimed third-parties would raise conflicts of interest, and the system would not be robust
  • FSA said Which? was wrong to doubt its plan
  • Third-parties will have an important role to play in future regulation, FSA said

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1 comment

Third Party Audits

Posted by Richard Bradford-Knox,

Use of third party audits or 'private standards' will have to be strictly administrated and not left to the |Certification bodies.

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