Food Law News - UK - 2011

FSA News Item, 25 May 2011

MEAT HYGIENE/ENFORCEMENT - Board agrees to take forward meat charging proposals

At its open meeting today in Belfast, the Food Standards Agency Board discussed future charging for official controls on meat.

In its discussion, the Board confirmed its view that:

The Board agreed that:

The FSA estimates that removing the current discount would result in cost increases to the UK meat industry of approximately £20 million. This is against a UK meat market (excluding game) worth about £6.34 billion to the UK economy. The FSA does not anticipate that additional costs will be passed on to consumers, and there will be no impact on food safety controls.

In calculating the costs that will be passed onto the industry, the Board was provided with clarification on those attributed to pensions. Previous indications to industry stakeholders were that full cost recovery would include the current employers’ contributions for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), and also contributions payable to members of the scheme who had already retired. This figure was originally estimated as £7.6 million for 2011/12. Following a review by HM Treasury of the cost and the allocation of that cost, it has been agreed that industry will not bear the cost relating to the deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme, which would have totalled £4.7 million. Therefore the pensions element within costs has been reduced to £2.9 million.

The FSA Chair will discuss the Board’s decision with Ministers in all four countries of the UK. There is also a requirement to send an Impact Assessment for the opinion of the independent Regulatory Policy Committee. The Board decision would then be referred to the Reducing Regulation Committee. This is a Cabinet Sub-Committee which considers issues relating to regulation, and approves all new regulatory proposals.

FSA Chair Jeff Rooker said: ‘The Board has confirmed that it is not the role of the FSA, as the food safety regulator, to subsidise the meat industry for the cost of delivering official controls. However, we have listened to concerns expressed about the impact on smaller plants of transferring this cost to the industry. That is why we have agreed to continue to provide support of £3.2 million in an extended low throughput category, to reduce the financial impact on those plants that would be most affected. Today’s Board decision is only the start of a process which will begin now with referral to the Regulatory Policy Committee and discussions with Ministers.’

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