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Regulator pledges to cut red tape for food manufacturers

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Action follows government campaign on enforcement. Small food manufacturers will benefit from more efficient enforcement of regulation, and…

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Action follows government campaign on enforcement.

Small food manufacturers will benefit from more efficient enforcement of regulation, and the public will benefit from higher standards of protection thanks to a Government war on ineffective bureaucracy.

The Government’s Focus on Enforcement campaign asked small food manufacturers with up to fifty employees to report on their experiences of working with national regulators and local authorities.

Acting on the feedback received, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will:

  • Allow businesses with a good record of compliance fewer inspections
  • Deliver enhanced training for enforcement officers, helping them understand the law and the businesses they are regulating – including an innovative e-learning package that will also benefit business
  • Work with local authorities to improve consistency in the quality of enforcement, creating a level playing field for businesses and a dependable level of protection for consumers
  • Explore alternate appeals mechanisms in cases of disagreement between the business and the enforcing officer
  • Ensure guidance for the food industry on food safety management is clear and concise. FSA will continue to review the guidance on control of cross-contamination of E.coli O157, and engage one of the leading food science laboratories and research centres in the UK to test independently the alternative controls to cross-contamination proposed by stakeholders. This will ensure any unnecessary burdens on businesses can be removed while strengthening the effectiveness of public health protection.
  • Working with industry stakeholders, the FSA will assess what guidance is currently available, whether this is accessible and used by industry, and what the FSA can do to help small manufacturers.

Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon said:

The Government understands that hard-pressed firms don’t have time for pointless bureaucracy. Smarter enforcement of regulation will spare firms from unnecessary red tape while ensuring that regulators concentrate their efforts where they are most needed to protect consumers and drive up standards.

Jeff Rooker, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said:

Good regulation protects the consumer and underpins business growth by enabling consumers to have confidence in what they eat. The FSA’s mission is to deliver safer food for the nation and these improvements will help with that by enabling us to focus resources where the risk is highest.

The Focus on Enforcement campaign is part of the Government’s commitment to regulate all businesses more efficiently and to cut unnecessary bureaucracy. Overall, Government action is expected to save businesses £1 billion in reduced red tape costs by July 2013.

Notes to editors

  1. The review was aimed at micro and small food manufacturing businesses employing up to 50 employees. A representative mix of businesses from both high and low-risk food and drink manufacturing sectors took part. Those eligible for comment included, but were not limited to butchers, bakers, cheese makers and confectioners including those manufacturing ice cream.
  2. Issues in relation to the way in which the regulatory system is enforced identified by the review included:
    • Proportionality of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) implementation by small businesses, and issues with HACCP as a legal requirement
    • Expertise of and support to small manufacturing businesses from local authority enforcement officers (mainly Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and Trading Standards Officers (TSOs)
    • Ease of understanding of regulatory requirements
    • Consistency of enforcement when businesses operated over more than one local authority boundary
    • Inspections: frequency and quality
    • Lack of appropriate appeals mechanisms
  3. Along with comments submitted on the website, 18 businesses and trade associations participated in the review field work which ran for five weeks from 1 May 2012.
  4. Focus on Enforcement reviews examine how regulation is delivered – whether through inspections, advice, and enforcement – not the regulations themselves. The programme’s site also gives individuals and businesses the opportunity to suggest areas for future review of compliance and enforcement arrangements, and to provide evidence on areas ‘in focus’ such as childcare or care homes. Businesses can also contribute to a wider review of appeals mechanisms operated by national and local regulators.
  5. The Focus on Enforcement website including full details of the review is at: http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement/
  6. A separate initiative – Red Tape Challenge – invites the public, business and the voluntary and community sector to give their views, comments and ideas on what regulations should stay, be improved, or be scrapped altogether. The Government announced on 10 September 2012 that at least 3,000 of the regulations examined will be scrapped or reduced. A second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will start in spring 2013. Visit: www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk
  7. The Focus on Enforcement website provides details on national regulators, their remits and regulatory budgets and staff resource. Information is also provided on regulatory functions undertaken by local authorities.
  8. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
    • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
    • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
    • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
    • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
  9. Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.
Published 21 January 2013