Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0301), 9 January 2003

ENFORCEMENT - Food Standards Agency conducts audits of local councils aimed at improving the formal enforcement of food legislation

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is today (January 9th) starting a programme of 15 new audits of local authorities to examine the consistency and effectiveness of their approach to the formal enforcement of food legislation. They are being carried out after data from local authorities across England showed variations in the levels of action being taken and a declining number of prosecutions.

The reasons for these trends will be investigated as part of the audit programme. Auditors will also examine how the full range of formal enforcement powers are used by local authorities, including closing food businesses, seizing unfit food and issuing warnings or formal cautions to businesses breaking the law. It is hoped that any findings will help the Agency advise local authorities on how to improve the use of their enforcement powers.

The local authorities, which are being audited between January and March this year, have been chosen to represent a cross-section of local councils nationwide in terms of the type of authority, their location and the level of formal enforcement action taking place. This programme looking at formal enforcement follows a series of general audits carried out as part of an on-going programmme examining the standards of local authority services across the full range of their food law enforcement duties.

Announcing the audits, David Statham, Director of Enforcement and Food Standards, said: 'It is important that local authorities take a consistent and effective approach to formal enforcement action and have suitable systems in place to ensure consumers are being protected. We're trying to delve a bit deeper into the underlying issues with these focused audits.

'We want to find out why there's such a variation in local authorities' approach to formal enforcement, and in particular to ensure that whatever action is taken is providing effective consumer protection by ensuring food businesses comply with the requirements of the law.'

A report on the audit into the formal enforcement of food legislation will be published on the Agency's website later this year.
The list of the 15 local authorities involved in the programme is as follows:

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