FSA Consultation Letter, 16 December 2004
The letter is seeking views on draft guidelines by which voluntary national guides to good hygiene practice and the application of HACCP principles will be developed and recognised in the UK . In addition, expressions of interest are invited from UK food business sectors wishing to propose the development of such guides. Responses are requested by: 18 March 2005
The key proposals are:
Articles 7 and 8 of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs provide for the development, assessment and dissemination of national guides to good hygiene practice and the application of HACCP principles. Where such guides exist, food business operators may use them on a voluntary basis as an aid to compliance with their obligations under the hygiene regulations. Guides to good practice have the potential to play an important role in supporting effective application of the new EC hygiene regulations. These regulations are the subject of a separate FSA consultation, click here.
Need for the guidelines
Article 8(1) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 states that where national guides to good practice are developed, they should be developed and disseminated by food business sectors as directed in the Regulation. Article 8(2) requires Member States to assess national guides to ensure they conform to specific criteria. As the UK Central Competent Authority, the Food Standards Agency is responsible for assessing UK guides developed in accordance with these requirements. The draft guidelines set out the proposed mechanism and criteria by which the UK will satisfy these obligations.
The guidelines would, in the main, be a continuation of current UK arrangements for the development of guides to good practice in accordance with Council Directive 93/43/EEC on the hygiene of foodstuffs. A number of UK guides have been developed under this Directive in accordance with guidelines put in place by the Department of Health in 1996 and inherited by the FSA in 2000. Directive 93/43/EEC will be repealed from 1 January 2006 and replaced by the new EC hygiene legislation. It is therefore appropriate to update and adapt the guidelines to reflect the changes in the law.
The guidelines describe the process and responsibilities for drafting and consulting on guides to good practice. They also include advice on the scope, content and structure of guides, outline the assessment criteria and the process for obtaining official recognition by the FSA. In addition, the guidelines explain the status that recognised guides will have and offer suggestions for their publication and dissemination.
Views are sought on whether the guidelines set out an acceptable framework for the development, assessment and recognition of national voluntary guides to good practice
We would welcome your views on whether the advice on the scope, content and structure of guides is adequate and appropriate. If not, we would welcome any proposals for improvement.
Proposals for the development of guides
Article 7 of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 requires Member States to encourage the development of guides to good practice.
Food business sectors are therefore invited to notify the FSA if they wish to propose the development of such guides within the framework laid down in the draft guidelines.
Existing guides to good practice
The EC hygiene Regulations allow industry guides to good practice drawn up under Council Directive 93/43/EEC to remain in place provided they are compatible with the new legal requirements. The FSA is in discussion with the relevant food business sectors regarding the need to review and, where necessary, update these guides.
Assessment of good practice guides
The Agency intends to set up a Good Practice Guides Assessment Panel to help with the assessment of good practice guides. This Panel would replace the existing Industry Guides Advisory Panel. Membership would be drawn from industry, consumers, enforcers and central Government. The Agency will conduct a separate exercise early in 2005 to recruit members to the new Assessment Panel.