UK Food Standard's body plans changes to UK food regulation

Changes are designed to make it a more modern, flexible and responsive regulatory system, ahead of leaving the EU and will strengthen oversight

Heather Hancock announced plans to change food regulation
in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

UK Food Standards Agency Chairman, Heather Hancock, has announced the department's plans to change food regulation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The document, 'Regulating Our Future – Why food regulation needs to change and how we are going to do it’, sets out proposals to transform the way food businesses are regulated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The FSA is looking to implement a modern, flexible and responsive regulatory system. Hancock said: “Along with EU Exit, changing the way food businesses are regulated is one of our two key priorities for the years ahead.

“The case for changing the food regulation system is strong. We need to reform the way we regulate to keep up the pace of change in the global food economy: in what we eat, where we consume it, how it reaches us.

“We need a modern, flexible and responsive regulatory system. It is important that we act now, rather than wait for the system to falter, risking damaging consequences for public health and for trust in food. These reform plans are given extra momentum as the UK leaves the EU, a step that will adjust patterns of food production, trade and consumption.

“This plan is the result of 18 months' debate and discussion with all the stakeholders in this area: businesses big and small, local authorities, third party assurers and consumers. We have developed the blueprint through open policy making, maintaining our principles of openness and transparency to give the public confidence in food safety and standards.

“At the heart of our plans is an enhanced system of registration for all food businesses, on the basis of which we will apply proportionate, risk-based controls. We want the outcomes from these changes to be a more robust, sustainable regulatory regime, one that sees standards improve in risky businesses, reduces the administrative burden for businesses that demonstrate they are compliant with food law, and sees effective enforcement action against food businesses that fail to fulfil their obligations.

“The new regulatory approach means big changes for the FSA, including strengthening our oversight of all the bodies involved in inspecting and assuring food businesses. We want to improve relationships with industry, bring a more commercially astute understanding onto our regulatory decisions, and above all ensure that the stringent and robust standards we set help food businesses fulfil their responsibility to produce food that is safe and what it says it is.”

Future changes

The paper details the changes the FSA wants to make. Chief among these are:

  • An enhanced system of registration for businesses
  • Segmenting businesses in a better way using a range of risk indicators
  • To be confident that businesses are doing the right thing, the FSA will introduce more options for companies to prove it. Based on how robust that information is, and past performance, the FSA will set the frequency and type of inspection activity
  • Ensuring the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is sustainable and display becomes mandatory in England as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Details of the changes can be found here