Food Law News - UK - 2001
FSA Wales Press Release (WA11/01KC), 17 July 2001
ENFORCEMENT - Local Authority Audited to Raise Food Safety Standards
The Food Standards Agency Wales has completed an audit of Cardiff County Council's food law enforcement activities. The audit, which is the first in a three- year rolling programme for the whole of Wales, will allow the Agency to compare the authority's performance against a UK-wide standard introduced in April this year.
The new Framework Agreement was introduced after consultation and agreement with consumer groups, local authorities and the Local Government Association and came into force in April this year. Designed to provide protection for everyone, and covering every type of food and all producers and retailers, the Agreement requires local authorities to work to a common benchmark in the local enforcement of food hygiene, food standards and feedstuffs legislation. This is intended to lead to a more effective and consistent enforcement of national food law across the UK.
The findings of the Cardiff County Council audit are currently being assessed and once the report is complete, details of the authority's performance will be made public. The FSA will also draw together results from audits carried out across the UK and publish them in a 'state of the nation's food controls' report. The first of these reports - to be published annually - will be available in July 2002.
Joy Whinney, Director of FSA Wales said: "The Food Standards Agency has a key role in overseeing local authority enforcement activity. Local food law enforcers are the first line of defence for the public, ensuring the safety and standard of our food. It is our job in the Agency, in partnership with local authorities, to set a standard and these audit programmes will tell us if this is being met."
"The programme will help us to understand better how local authorities operate, enabling us to highlight and share best practice with other authorities. These audits will also allow the Agency to identify and address areas of concern and give us information on whether appropriate resources are being directed at this important function."
"The standards set a benchmark, and where we find that basic procedures are insufficient, we will draw up an action plan to remedy the problems and we will publish this along with the final report. However, we also recognise the need to be flexible where innovation and variation is used by authorities to address local needs and priorities."
The following notes are included:
- Prior to 1 April, local authorities made returns to Government on their food enforcement activities. The Agency recently published the returns for 1999. The new Framework Agreement significantly enhances the information made available and introduces a new enforcement standard, and audit arrangements.
- Development of the Framework Agreement started in 1998 and was carried out through the Local Authority Enforcement Liaison Group (LAELG), a joint Government/local authority group. A consultation document on the final draft of the Framework Agreement was issued on 3 April 2000 and received wide support from UK local authorities and other stakeholders.
- The Food Standards Agency was set up in April 2000 to protect people's health and the interests of consumers in relation to food. It is an independent Government Department.
- The Food Standards Agency has powers to monitor and audit local authorities under the Food Standards Act 1999.
- All 22 local authorities in Wales will be audited as part of a 3 year rolling programme. The auditing of Newport County Borough Council will take place during the week beginning 17 September 2001. Other local authorities selected for audit will be announced as the programme develops.
- The Local Authority Enforcement Framework Agreement was published and issued to local authorities on 29 September 2000, and a revised edition was issued in March 2001.
- In addition to the audit programme all local authorities are required to supply quarterly returns to the Agency on their enforcement activities. The Food Standards Agency Wales has carried out a programme of seminars across Wales for local authority administrators who are responsible for these food enforcement returns.
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