Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - UK - 2015

FSA Consultation Letter, 9 March 2015

HYGIENE - Official Controls Charges in Approved Meat Premises: Consultation on a Proposal for a New Discount System

A copy of the full consultation document is available on this site.  See: Official Controls Charges in Meat Premises: A Proposal for a New Discount System

This consultation seeks your views on proposals for a new system of discounts on charges for meat and animal welfare at slaughter official controls in approved meat premises.

Official controls are carried out by Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors in slaughterhouses, meat cutting premises and game handling establishments. They are a legal requirement under EU law.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the central competent authority responsible for the controls in the UK and charges Food Business Operators (FBOs) for the delivery of these controls. The current system of discounts on FSA charges introduced in 2009 has inherent problems and is in need of reform.

At its September 2012 meeting, the FSA Board asked the meat industry to work with the FSA to develop a reformed meat charges discount system that promotes efficiency, supports improving compliance (within a de-regulatory remit), appropriately supports Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and provides a balanced discount arrangement that seeks to achieve a more balanced and more equitable system.

Industry representatives from the production and processing sectors were invited to form the Steering Group for Meat Charging (“Steering Group”) under an independent Chair – Bill Stow. Fifteen representatives from across these sectors formed this group.

The industry Steering Group has proposed and considered the impact of a number of options for changes to the method used to allocate discounts. The group arrived at a broad consensus in July 2014 which was presented to the FSA Board, at its September 2014 meeting, by the Chair of the Steering Group.

The FSA Board agreed to the proposals for a new discount system and approved a 12 week consultation.

The proposals for consultation are:

with a view to these arrangements being introduced from the start of 2016/17.

An estimate of the impact of the discount proposals for your premises will be sent to you during week commencing 9 March 2015.

We are seeking views on options and for the timing of the introduction of the changes.

With effect from 1 April 2015 official controls in Scotland will be delivered by Food Standards Scotland (FSS). FSS has developed its own proposals for charging which have been subject to stakeholder consultation.

The proposals of the Steering Group have been under development since August 2013. Throughout the period since then, the proposals, policy creation, economic and financial modelling, have been developed on the basis of the UK as a whole. Consequently all FBOs in the UK are being consulted. The FSA is working on the assumption that FSS will introduce its own proposals in Scotland with effect from 1 April 2015. The relevant aspects of the responses to this consultation will be passed to FSS for consideration. The discount reform changes subject to this consultation, which are proposed for implementation from 28 March 2016, would only apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A separate simultaneous consultation is being held in Northern Ireland.

All responses to the consultation need to be received by 31 May 2015.

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