Food Law News - UK - 2009

FSA Local Authority Letter (ENF/E/09/021), 20 April 2009

ENFORCERMENT - The Primary Authority scheme

As you will be aware the Primary Authority scheme came into force on 6 April 2009. Authorities should ensure they are familiar with the statutory requirements of the scheme when carrying out enforcement action on any businesses or other organisations within the scheme.

The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) is co-ordinating the scheme and further information is available from the LBRO website at including LBRO guidance on the scheme.

The Agency is currently reviewing what additional guidance might be required by local authorities on the co-ordination of food and feed law enforcement for businesses operating in Scotland or Northern Ireland, where food and feed matters are devolved and therefore outside the scope of the scheme.

A Primary Authority section has been created on the FSA website at All FSA Guidance and other information relating to the scheme will be published here.

A dedicated mailbox has also been set up. Please ensure this email is used for all requests for technical advice involving primary authorities.

Local authorities should also ensure that all requests to the Agency for technical advice involving primary authorities are highlighted as such. This will help with our internal co-ordination and speed our response times when dealing with any referrals from LBRO. It would also be helpful if primary authorities would inform businesses, entering into partnership agreements with them, of the importance of communicating that they are involved in the scheme when requesting advice from the Agency.

The following is taken from the FSA web page quoted above:

The Primary Authority scheme

The Government's statutory Primary Authority scheme came into force on 6 April 2009. The scheme introduces provisions for businesses, charities or other organisations that operate across more than one site, to enter into a partnership agreement with a single authority for it to become that organisation's Primary Authority.

The existing Home Authority scheme will continue to operate across the UK, and particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the Primary Authority scheme does not extend to the devolved functions of food or feed law enforcement.

The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) will co-ordinate the scheme, including approving and registering all Primary Authorities. Where a primary authority is registered, any other local authority (known as an ‘enforcing authority' for the purposes of the scheme) proposing to take enforcement action against a food business within the scheme must contact the primary authority first. The Primary Authority can then challenge the proposed enforcement action, if it believes it to be inconsistent with advice or guidance that it has previously provided. LBRO will determine any disputes between a primary authority, or a business, and an enforcing authority. LBRO will consult the Food Standards Agency (FSA) when determining food or feed law disputes of a technical nature.

The scheme is designed to aid better co-ordination of inspections and enforcement of businesses within the scheme, resulting in a more consistent approach to the inspection process and any subsequent advice or enforcement action. The scheme should also facilitate greater sharing of information between authorities, creating opportunities for them to target their resources more effectively, and reducing the costs that arise from inconsistent or duplicated enforcement.

The FSA is working to reduce the burden of regulation on business and make it easier for businesses to understand and comply with legislation. Our aim is to deliver increased compliance and improved consumer protection. Providing authorities with the means better to target their resources will allow them to focus more on higher risk areas.

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