FSA Press Release (2003/0314), 11 February 2003
The vast majority of local authorities (LAs) are carrying out 50% or more of planned inspections of high risk food businesses, according to an annual report of the food safety work undertaken by LAs to be considered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board on Thursday.
A total of 479 out of the 499 LAs in the UK met the Agency's minimum requirement for food and hygiene standards in 2001.
Of those that failed to meet the minimum requirements:
The Agency has been working with these authorities to help them to raise their standards. Fourteen have reported that they have taken remedial steps and action plans are being drawn up with the rest.
David Statham, Director of Enforcement and Food Standards at the FSA, said:
This report shows that the vast majority of local authorities are achieving the minimum requirements for inspecting food businesses. And many are going significantly beyond this, despite the fact that 2001 was a difficult year with resources stretched by foot and mouth. The Agency very much welcomes this, but there are no grounds for complacency.
'Before the FSA was set up there were no UK-wide agreed performance targets. Nor was there any opportunity for public or other scrutiny of this performance until we began auditing the food safety work of local authorities and collating and publishing this data. Three years, on the FSA Board will be asked to consider whether the minimum standards should now be raised year on year. This would be a challenge for local authorities, but enforcing high standards of food safety are an important part of consumer protection.'
The introduction of a more rigorous approach to collecting the data with local authorities has led to an increase in the number of registered food businesses. There are now more than 143,000 more food businesses in the UK than were previously registered.
Other trends in enforcement activity included:
· Enforcement officers gave an extra 7% of businesses - a total of 414,599 - a full inspection at least once
· They also logged 747,322 premises to inspect in 2001, a rise of 24% from 603,328 in the previous year
· But the total number of inspections and other visits by enforcement officers to premises fell to 696,353 in 2001, a drop of 6% on the previous year. The Agency is now meeting with local authorities to investigate the reasons for this
· Food sampling, to check quality and safety standards, fell by 8% in 2001. The Agency is working with authorities to reverse this trend
· Authorities reported that the Foot and Mouth outbreak, which placed extra demands on many local authorities, as well as IT, staffing and resource problems, had caused difficulties.
The FSA Board will be asked to consider raising by 5% every year the minimum target set for local authorities, which currently stands at 50% of planned high-risk inspections.
The seventeen authorities which missed the target for inspections are: Berwick upon Tweed District Council, Copeland District Council, Moyle District Council, Strabane District Council, Ceredigion County Council, Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, Orkney Islands Council, Kent County Council, Portsmouth City Council, Lambeth Borough Council, Lewisham Borough Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Dundee City Council, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Anglesey County Council and West Dunbartonshire Council.
The three other councils which failed to meet other enforcement standards are: Sevenoaks District Council and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, which failed to supply data, and Eastleigh District Council, which did not carry out any food sampling.