Food Safety Conference

Food firms ‘to get more control’ with new FSA plan

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The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) plan to refocus its resources to investing more money in strategic science and data analysis will give food and drink manufacturers more control over their destiny, according to former-FSA head of local authority enforcement John Barnes.

In this exclusive video, filmed at Food Manufacture’s food safety conference on June 22, Barnes said the FSA’s Regulating our Future programme would help to protect the industry against global risks and threats. The scheme was designed to make the industry more fit for purpose.

Barnes said: “The benefits for manufacturers is that to some extent, that they have more control over their destiny. If there’s sharing of data, then there’s a lot more protection in a co-regulated model for the industry in general.

‘Protected against all sorts of problems and risks’

“So, it’s about trying to make some of this information pre-competitive, so that the industry in the UK can be protected against all sorts of problems and risks that might be going on across the globe. But importantly, it’s about having a strong and robust system.”

The industry needed to make sure it had a strong and mature food safety control system, that properly acknowledged the investment and expertise that the sector had, Barnes added. Regulating our Future would do that, he said.

Regulated self-assurance – formerly known as earned recognition – would allow the FSA to focus its resources on ‘risky’ businesses, as opposed to replicating results from compliant businesses.

‘Taking proper responsibility’

“It’s not self-regulation,” said Barnes. “Nobody wants that, including the industry – they want the consumer to be confident in what they’re doing. It’s regulated in terms of there will be verification. But, there’s still a role for a strong regulator and local authorities to check that the industry is doing its job, and they’re taking proper responsibility for food safety.

“But, if they’re able to demonstrate that to the regulator, then they can focus their resources on areas where they will have much better effect.”

Meanwhile, watch out for more reports and video interview from Food Manufacture Group’s Food safety conference later this week.

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