FSA thanks meat industry for Covid-19 effort
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued an open letter addressed to businesses in the meat industry, thanking them for all their hard work in keeping Britain fed during the pandemic.
Dr Colin Sullivan and the acting chief operating officer, Martin Evans of the FSA cosigned the letter which read: “In these unprecedented times, we want to thank you all for working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to enable your meat processing and our meat inspection to continue in businesses up and down the country in the most challenging of circumstances.”
“The importance of the meat sector to the food supply chain has never been more apparent, and the vital role of those working in it has never been more evident.
“We are hugely grateful for the co-operation from industry and individual businesses we have had in responding to the Covid-19 outbreak and this collaboration will be even more important in the coming weeks and months.”
The letter also highlighted steps that the FSA has taken so far to protect consumer interests and animal welfare whilst supporting businesses to produce safe food. The steps included:
- Early and ongoing engagement with industry: following the first Covid-19 planning summit with key industry bodies on 12th March, the FSA has been leading the ongoing co-ordination and engagement with industry and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs while subsequent high-level meetings have also been led by CEO Emily Miles.
- Further engagement across the industry with key players will continue on a daily basis to address emerging issues and to ensure a consistent approach across the country. The FSA will also be leading the next industry summit on 7th April.
- It has also provided advice for food businesses on Covid-19 as well as more specific advice for the meat industry in the letter of 25th March.
- Being ready to provide the controls but with significant staff absence: Working with industry, the FSA has already implemented a number of measures to minimise the impact on businesses which were outlined in a letter to businesses on 31st March. These follow clear principles to ensure they are temporary, are applied as consistently as possible, and will continue to protect food safety and animal welfare. They include:
- Prioritising its activity: including deferring scheduled audits for sites with higher audit outcomes (good and generally satisfactory) until the end of June to maximise resources.
- Using existing legislation to support a reduced FSA workforce: these include using other qualified individuals to carry out roles and extending some inspection deadlines to maximise resources. It has also identified authorised FSA staff who are able to return to the front line as well staff who can be redirected from other Government agencies, such the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
- Assessing additional measures under temporary legislation: The European Commission brought out new regulations which will allow the FSA to be even more flexible about the way the it operates controls.
Sullivan and Evans continued: “We also wish to express my gratitude to those meat businesses that have risen to the significant challenge that social distancing presents at their sites, and who have been looking after the health and safety of the FSA workforce who are there.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this problem and we know each and every site will face different issues in how they implement these measures. We continue to work with sites to assist them to deliver these arrangements in the most practical way possible, to allow your staff and our staff to maintain food production and meat inspection at their premises.
“These will continue to be challenging times for all staff working in the meat industry and our local field managers are always available for further discussion to ensure we meet the needs of businesses at this time.
“We would like to thank the industry for the many acts of great co-operation so far in responding to this challenge.”