Disappointment at new FSA audit system

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has expressed disappointment over the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) new meat plant auditing system.

The FSA is introducing the new system today (29 October), with changes including redesigned audit reports, the ability for auditors to link audit criteria to specific regulations, weighted questions based on significance to food safety, and the option for businesses with robust controls in place to reduce their audit frequency to every eight months.

An FSA spokesperson said the new audit reports had been “piloted and created in consultation with the meat industry”, and were designed to “improve consistency and make sure the audits are easier to understand”.

However, Peter Hewson of AIMS said that the new system was not much of an improvement, and that a more radical overhaul of the auditing process was necessary.

“The FSA did not involve industry early in the development process, which was a mistake as we believe radical change is needed and they have kept much the same format that looks at inputs rather than outputs. If a slaughterhouse is spotless, it can still end up as a cause for concern because it hasn’t got reams of records,” he said.

“We have pointed out that such records are best practice and not legislative requirements, but understand they are pressing on regardless. Very disappointing when we are supposed to have a new constructive relationship.”

The FSA has committed to conducting a longer-term review of audit arrangements, but the FSA spokesperson was unable to give a time frame on this, pointing out that any changes would have to be approved by the FSA Board and subject to a full public consultation.



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