Britain/Ireland – Isle of Man’s, an island in the Irish sea, Environment Minister has announced the progress made in the regulation and quality of cows’ milk, after a critical scrutiny report highlighted serious flaws in how the island’s dairy industry is regulated.

The report had three initial recommendations, the first of which is the need to develop and implement a rating scheme for all producers based on the publication of the results of tests and inspections.

The others are to have ’a more transparent escalation framework for quality issues and enforcement and the need for more ’transparency and cooperation’ between the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) and the Milk Marketing Association to ensure high quality milk is provided.

Mrs. Clare Barber, the Environment Minister, appeared before the High Court of Tynwald to provide an update on progress on these three aims.

She explained how one of the criticisms of the failed Health and Food Hygiene Ratings II was that its wording had prevented a soft rollout of the inspections scheme, and that a forced rollout may have been considered ’unsupportive of businesses who have suffered as a result of the pandemic’.

The minister said that a rollout of the inspection scheme had been planned for mid-late 2022, but that because of ’the struggles faced by food businesses as a result of the pandemic’ and the ’unprecedented demand on environmental health services’, more consideration was being given to the timing.

Mrs. Barber said that an ’operational food hygiene inspection programme’ would be implemented by the department over the next 18 months, which will align with the European Union’s (EU) and United Kingdom’s (UK) requirements.

The food hygiene rating regulations will also be amended to take into consideration the concerns raised in Tynwald last July, and presented again this year. These regulations will stipulate a phased implementation which will take into consideration recovery from the Covid pandemic by both businesses and the environmental health team.

In the meantime, the inspection scheme will be underway and businesses issued with a risk rating for the information they provide.

Business scores will not be published until the scheme is launched, which she said would give time for DEFA officers to work with those business who may have areas with room for improvement.

As for the escalation framework, Mrs. Barber said that the department is in the process of developing a food safety enforcement policy which includes this, and is based on the England’s Food Safety Agency’s food law code of practice.

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