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FSA Enforcement Letter (ENF/E/17/072), 16 November 2017
Summary: The purpose of this note is to clarify the approach that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is taking to the development of the FSA’s Regulating Our Future (ROF) proposals, to correct some misunderstandings that have come to light in respect of the ROF position paper – published last July, and advise of forthcoming FSA Board planned discussions.
The purpose of this note is to clarify the approach that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is taking to the development of the FSA’s Regulating Our Future (ROF) proposals, to correct some misunderstandings that have come to light in respect of the ROF position paper – published last July, and advise of forthcoming FSA Board planned discussions.
The FSA have recently received a number of letters from local authorities (LAs) in response to the FSA’s ROF paper published on 19 July – ‘Why food regulation needs to change and how we are going to do it’. It’s important to note that the purpose of this document is to inform stakeholders of the programme’s progress and set out the direction of travel. It is not and was not intended to be a policy consultation document.
The FSA have talked about ROF using an open policy making approach. This means that we will share our thinking, ideas and concepts with stakeholders. We will obtain insights and ask stakeholders for their contributions to inform and shape policy options and there will continue to be a clearly identified period of formal consultation. Policy decisions will not be made before this process has been completed.
The FSA would also like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the misunderstandings that appear to have developed over the last few months:
ROF is handing over responsibility for food safety regulation to the food industry
This is not the intention of the ROF programme, we have emphasised the legal responsibility of food businesses to provide food that is safe and what it says it is. The FSA and delivery partners will continue to regulate food businesses to ensure they are doing the right thing for consumers. We will use an increasing variety of tools and data to check that they are. Where we find they are not, enforcement action will be taken. No food business will regulate themselves.
Private regulated assurance through Certified Regulatory Auditors (CRAs) has been decided and will be implemented
The CRA concept is being explored as a potential source of bringing additional competent resource into the delivery model and where the role would best fit within it. No decision has been made that CRAs will be a feature of the new model. The concept will be considered by the FSA Board in open session in December.
ROF changes will mean the EHO & TSO professions are less valued and resources in LAs will continue to be reduced because there are less inspections
We are clear that the EHO and TSO professions will play a fundamental role within the new model and LAs will remain the Competent Authority for official controls and food law enforcement. However, we recognise that some of the activities to be undertaken by EHOs and TSOs in the new model may be different from those in the current model and it will be important to ensure that all professionals have the skills and competency required to do their job effectively.
The FSA is not consulting on decisions and is going to implement changes regardless of stakeholder views
Formal consultation will take place as has always been the case once policy options have been fully developed. This is a fundamental step in the government process for policy making process and must happen. An integral part of the open policy making approach will be that there are no surprises in the policy options stakeholders are asked to comment on. The options will be visible in development and part of an on-going open and transparent discussion.
I hope LAs will see the clear evidence of this approach at the next open Board meeting in December where we will provide the Board with a ROF update and discuss the approach to private regulated assurance. The Board paper has drawn on feedback from this summer’s engagement with local delivery partners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The FSA have also had feedback from food businesses and their representatives and importantly from consumers who are vital to the success of this as the end outcome has got to be improved consumer protection. The next Board meeting will be held on 6th December and the papers to be discussed will be published in advance on 23 November 2017, this can be downloaded from www.food.gov.uk