Businesses to be charged for food regulation

Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to press ahead with plans to recover the costs of regulation from food businesses.

An overhaul of the official food controls system could see poor-performing businesses expected to pay more than those with better safety records.

It is the first time the FSA has publically stated its intention to recover costs in this way. In 2012 it unsuccessfully attempted to implement cost recovery for meat inspections, a measure opposed by farmers.

The proposals will be considered as part of a ‘stakeholder event’ on 10 February as part of widespread changes to food controls. The agency fears local authorities are struggling to keep up with existinginspection regimes due to dwindling resources.

A paper put to the FSA board said: ‘The responsibility for funding this system should increasingly pass from the taxpayer to businesses, with those businesses with the most proactive approach to demonstrating their dedication to food safety paying less than those who require a higher level of state intervention.’

The agency said the current regulatory regime ‘relies largely on physical inspection’ and that other sources of data on food businesses should be pursued.

The paper said: ‘Inspections carried out by government staff are just a small part of an enormous array of potential sources of assurance, which we could be using to focus our efforts ever more precisely on the businesses who need the most help to come up to standard.

‘We will consider all sources of information, irrespective of whether it is us or a third party doing the check. We will also consider sources of data that do not derive from inspections.’

Earlier this month the incoming FSA chair HeatherHancock indicated the food controls regulatory regime would be ‘redesigned’within three years.


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