In its Annual Report and Accounts for 2018/19, published on 19 July, the FSA said while it remained committed to introducing a new private assurance model as part of its Regulating Our Future (ROF) programme, “we recognise that it will be some time before we can enact any change and we must be realistic about that so, for now, we are pausing work in this area”.
The report added: “We will consider how we can pursue our ambition as part of our work to develop the FSA’s strategy from 2020.”
However, an FSA spokeswoman told Food Manufacture that while work had been paused, it would be “working closely with other parts of government on sustainable funding, but the timing of this work will be subject to the broader government agenda”.
Call on Government to halt plans
Last year, a collaboration of 37 food industry bodies called on the Government to halt plans to outsource food safety inspections to private companies.
A report by the Food Research Collaboration found that the timing of ROF “could not be worse” with the Government still to clarify exactly how it plans to manage the effects of Brexit on the UK food industry.
Report co-author, Professor Tim Lang of City, University of London, told Food Manufacture that with the October 31 Brexit deadline looming, “there should be no shortcuts or streamlining of public health protection”.
In 2017, FSA chair Heather Hancock told Food Manufacture that its ROF plans were “absolutely Brexit-proof”, and would not be knocked off course by the outcome of the UK Government’s negotiations to leave the EU.