Inspection and audit of meat industry a “top priority”, says FSA

Inspection and audit of meat industry a “top priority”, says FSA

In a new five-year plan launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the body said that the regular inspection and audit of UK meat businesses remained “a top priority.”

Dozens of meat hygiene inspectors will now be hired by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The new strategy seeks to understand how the Agency will continue to uphold food safety and authenticity. It also signals the FSA’s willingness to support governments “to improve the health of the nation and to look after the planet.”

Underpinning the report are three core elements of the FSA’s mission for the next five years. These are: ‘food is safe’, ‘food is what it says it is’ and ‘food is healthier and more sustainable’.

Food is safe

The FSA said it will prioritise keeping the level of foodborne disease low. This will be done in many ways; from direct inspection work in the meat and dairy industries to surveillance and preventative programmes.

The Agency said it had a “direct responsibility” for inspecting, auditing and assuring businesses in England and Wales producing meat and dairy. It also delivers Official Controls in abattoirs and game handling establishments, and audits and inspects meat cutting plants and on-farm dairy establishments.

Food is what it says it is

The Agency stated it will ensure food is “authentic and properly described.” It said: “This is essential to maintain the confidence of the public and our international trading partners in UK food. Food authenticity is also closely linked to food safety.”

Another focus of the report was on the topic of food crime. The FSA said its National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) works, and would continue to work, to tackle serious fraud and related criminality within food supply chains.

The report also noted that food hypersensitivity was also on the FSA’s agenda. The FSA is responsible for allergen labelling and providing guidance to consumers with food hypersensitivity (which includes food allergy, Coeliac Disease and food intolerance).

Food is healthier and more sustainable

The FSA asserts that climate change would have an impact on food safety and authenticity, which must be addressed. It said: “If we don’t act now to play our part in tackling climate change, we will be much less able to keep food safe. [For instance] extreme weather events can affect supply chains, which in turn can mean pre-printed labels are no longer accurate if ingredients are substituted at short notice.”

FSA also cited its Eating Well Choosing Better (EWCB) programme as a means in which the Agency promotes a “healthier” industry. The programme seeks to support small and medium sized food businesses in Northern Ireland to reduce the calorie, sugar, saturated fat and salt content of the food they produce, sell or serve, as well as reducing portion sizes to help consumers make healthier choices.

Putting the consumer first

FSA chief Executive Emily Miles said: “Leaving the EU has changed the FSA’s role. We have taken on new functions, like approving new types of food that come on sale here and setting rules for checks of imported food.

“Today the FSA therefore plays a more critical role than ever in supporting governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on matters relating to food. The strategy commits us to put consumer interests at the heart of our work so that food is safe and what it says it is as well as being healthier and more sustainable.”

The full FSA plan can be found here.

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