Food Law News - UK - 2010

FSA News Item, 24 May 2010

INCIDENTS – FSA Incidents report 2009 published

A copy of the report is availabl on this site. See: FSA Annual report of incidents 2009.

The Agency today publishes its 'Annual report of incidents 2009', which provides details of more than 1,200 investigations into food incidents and outlines proposals for the future.

There were 1,208 incidents last year, a slight decrease from 1,298 in 2008, although the total figures have remained relatively constant for the past four years. The incidents included the high profile case of salmonella associated with some eggs from Spain and a successful prosecution of people operating an unapproved meat plant in West Yorkshire. The report gives details of these cases and what action was taken to protect consumers.

The report gives a breakdown of incidents by category, with the major categories being: microbiological (18% of incidents), environmental contamination (17%), natural chemical contamination (12%) and on-farm incidents (12%).

The report also highlights the work the Agency did in 2009 to review and improve its handling of incidents.

Improving the way we work

To improve the means by which the Agency prevents and responds to incidents, five incident-handling workshops were held with local authorities to clarify roles and responsibilities and strengthen working relationships. Similar workshops are also planned for this year.

The Agency also reviewed its communications with local authorities during incidents and, as a result, is changing its procedures regarding food alerts. The changes aim to increase the Agency's response speed during incidents, reduce the number of alerts issued to local authorities, and address concerns of some parts of the food industry over the terminology that has previously been used.

Food Alerts and Allergy Alerts

Action taken by the Agency in 2009 included the issuing of 91 Alerts, of which 49 were Allergy Alerts. Alerts give consumers and enforcement officers the information they need directly by email or SMS text message, as well as online.

What is an incident?

The Agency uses the following definition of an incident:

'Any event where, based on the information available, there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers’ interests.'

Incidents fall broadly into two categories:

For the news item relating to the 2008 report, see: 28 May 2009 RECALL - 2008 Incidents report published by FSA

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