UK – The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has unveiled the revised Food Law Code of Practice for England and Northern Ireland, marking a significant shift in food standards regulation.

The implementation of the new model will occur in phases, commencing in the summer of 2023.

The primary objective of the revised code is to empower local authorities to adopt a more risk-based and intelligence-driven approach to inspections.

This strategic shift aims to optimize the allocation of time and resources towards food businesses that present the greatest potential public health risks to consumers.

Under the new model, non-compliant businesses will undergo more frequent checks, while businesses that demonstrate consistent compliance will experience reduced inspections.

Local authorities will be granted greater flexibility to assess compliance through various methods, including remote checks when deemed appropriate.

The updated code emphasizes the importance of critical thinking in assessing risk within the food chain. By encouraging a comprehensive understanding of risk at various stages of the supply chain, regulators can intervene effectively at key points of manufacture or import, streamlining efforts and maximizing impact.

Successful pilot and resource optimization

Following a successful pilot involving seven local authorities in England and Northern Ireland in 2022, the FSA determined that the new model effectively directs officers to businesses where non-compliance is more likely to be found.

This approach helps address the decline in local authority resources dedicated to food standards work, which has experienced a significant reduction of approximately 50% over the past decade.

To facilitate the smooth implementation of the revised model, the FSA will provide comprehensive guidance and training on its use and implementation. This will ensure that local authorities are equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to effectively carry out inspections and enforce food standards.

The publication of the revised Food Law Code of Practice follows a 12-week consultation that concluded in January 2023, with responses made available on the FSA’s website.

In the near future, a pilot of the proposed food standards model with local authorities in Wales will commence, informing a subsequent consultation on potential amendments to the Food Law Code of Practice specific to Wales.

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