Mess with food safety laws at our peril

Griffiths: 'There are dangers in messing with our current [food safety] laws'

The government risks jeopardising food safety in the UK if it rushes through new legislation in the wake of Brexit, a food law, risk management and compliance specialist has claimed.

UK lawmakers should “avoid at all cost” passing new food safety legislation quickly, despite the clear political pressure to do so, said Neil Griffiths, retail services director at SGS.

The dangers of amending the Food Safety Act and the European Commission’s General Food Law Regulation without proper industry consultation and consideration, could result in “very bad law”,he warned.

Griffiths was addressing delegates at Food Manufacture’s 2017 food safety conference last month (June 22). The event was sponsored by Checkit, Dycem, eurofins, Ishida, Pal International and Westgate Factory Dividers.

‘Revisions to the laws’

“Once we’ve moved under the UK statutes, any revisions to the laws should be set to timescales that allow for proper and adequate time for consultation,” Griffiths said.

“There are dangers with messing with our current laws without proper consultation and consideration. As businesses, I strongly suggest you get involved in those consultations.”

Griffiths claimed that the main food safety regulations currently in place were “looked on by the majority of the world as good law”. He believed that, in the main, they made “good common sense” and had kept food safety “very competently” – if properly enforced.

However, given the current political climate, he indicated that a total separation of the UK’s food regulation from the EU was the most likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

‘Fall back on World Trade Organisation systems’

“There is a growing view that we may end up in what I would call the default model, where basically we fall back on World Trade Organisation systems,” Griffiths said.

“While I’m resistant to any substantive change occurring quickly, one approach could be to strengthen our Food Safety Act to allow us to fall under European law, and get rid of the General Food Law Regulation.”

In its present state, Griffiths said there were a number of areas missing within the Food Safety Act that were in the General Food Law Regulation.

“Areas such as traceability, risk analysis, precautionary principles, and product recalls – I suggest these would be relatively simple to put in the Food Safety Act, allowing us to have one UK statutory act as the centrepiece of legislation going forward.”

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