U.K. Takes Simpler Approach to Food Safety
The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) is looking to “cut red tape and increase consumer protection” at the same time with a new program designed to make it easier for business to understand and comply with food safety regulations.
The simplification plan, as it is known, includes a number of initiatives such as the deregulation of butchers’ licensing that is projected to save the industry £1.3m a year in fees.
Another key element of the plan includes improvements to the GRAIL (Guidance and Regulatory Advice on Import Legislation) database system to make it more accessible to health officers at U.K. ports. Up till now, each port had to install its own individual reference system to stay current with changes in law. Many had to rely on hard copies as a point of reference. With the new plan, the GRAIL database will be available to all.
Port Health Officer, Richard Jacobs, who uses the GRAIL system at Felixstowe Port, said in a FSA press release: “With the regular changes that occur in imported food legislation we can now look at GRAIL, confident that the latest version of the legislation is available. All ports with GRAIL have access to the same information which is a significant step forward in ensuring consistency.”
Dame Deirdre Hutton, FSA Chair, said, “The FSA is firmly committed to better regulation. Simplifying regulation makes compliance easier and leads to increased public protection.”
In addition to the simplification plan, the FSA has already committed to reducing the administrative burden of food regulations by 25 percent – £11.9m – by April 2010.
Discussion Questions: How easy or difficult is it for American businesses to understand and comply with food regulations? Have the recent outbreaks of
food poisoning in the U.S. created opportunities to improve food safety? Is there concern that “cutting red tape” may be code for “cutting corners” that put consumers at risk?
Simplification and consistency are certainly needed. The possible catch would be if deregulation were to reduce transparency. If there is one thing that
British consumers are demanding more and more, it is reason to trust the food chain.
- FSA publishes Simplification Plan to cut red tape and increase consumer protection
– British Food Standards Agency