FSA slashes inspections for assurance scheme farmers

Farmers who join farm assurance schemes could benefit from fewer inspections in the future under a new initiative announced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The initiative was developed by the Agency in partnership with local authorities and industry following EU legislation on the hygiene of foodstuffs. Membership of recognised farm assurance schemes will result in a lower frequency of food hygiene inspections, reducing the burden on business and benefitting consumers, the Agency said today.

The Agency expects the changes to bring significant savings in terms of time and cost for farmers and local authorities across the UK. It estimates that savings each year will amount to around £571,000 for farmers and £2m for local authorities.

Philip Clarke, head of the FSA's Better Regulation and Consultation Branch, said: "The Agency is firmly committed to reducing regulatory burdens on food businesses, while still maintaining the highest levels of consumer protection. The initiative announced today will help focus inspections and make regulations simpler - this will benefit farmers, local authorities, and consumers - as we believe making compliance with the law simpler will increase levels of compliance."

It is hoped that as a result of the initiative inspections will spotlight farming sectors identified as having a higher food safety risk.

Clarke added: "Focusing the efforts of local authorities on high-risk premises in this way should improve consumer protection as enforcement action would be targeted where the risks occur."

Information was provided by the Food Standards Agency to local authorities about 102,000 farms in England during March and April this year, so that they could start applying the new enforcement regime.

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