FSA bullish on food sector overview

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The FSA praised the steps taken for policing and managing food standards
The FSA praised the steps taken for policing and managing food standards
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has hailed a significant stride forward in the management and policing of food standards, creating “a single, unified view of the food and feed sector”, according to FSA chair Heather Hancock (pictured).

Speaking at the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum event last month, ‘Next steps for food regulation in the UK’, in London, Hancock said: “Previously, no one could say confidently how many food and feed establishments were covered by the regulatory system, never mind what was happening with them ... That’s because the information collected by individual local authorities was inconsistent, used different systems, referenced locations and businesses in a myriad of ways, and was not regularly cleansed.

Challenges overcome

“Those challenges have been overcome. We have reconciled records of an apparent 1.64m food and feed business locations to confirm the existence of over 550,000 active, located business premises, and that number is still going up slowly as more niche datasets are added.

“It’s hard to overestimate how important this step is. We can interrogate it by geography, business type, food or feed activity, business name, Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, and who is delivering controls. This single unified view is essential to progressing our plans to use artificial intelligence and algorithms to target genuinely risky food and feed businesses, and food and feed products.”

The system would also support the creation of a balanced scorecard approach to tracking local authority inspection performance, said Hancock.

Inspection obligations

“It covers how they meet their inspection obligations, levels of business compliance, number of qualified personnel, and numbers of unrated businesses. We are using this to get early signs of stress in local authorities meeting their legal obligations, and intervene at chief executive and leader level to get things back on track.”

Hancock stressed continued concerns about the lack of adequately trained Trading Standards officers and environmental health officers. She said the FSA was updating the competency framework and developing a training manual for them, but more cash had to be invested in growing staff numbers.

Related topics: Legal

Related news

Show more

comments

Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars