Food Law News - UK - 2005
FSA News Item, 31 January 2005
ENFORCEMENT - Food Safety (NI) Order 1991 Code of Practice for Northern Ireland councils
The Food Safety (NI) Order 1991 Code of Practice for District Councils in Northern Ireland has been revised. The Code updates, consolidates and replaces the previous 18 Codes of Practice issued under the Food Safety (NI) Order 1991.
The new Code has immediate effect but any revised inspection rating of premises should be applied after the next inspection. In particular Councils should be aware that premises subject to Product Specific Food Hygiene Regulations are excluded from the food hygiene risk-rating scheme in Annex 5 and should no longer be classified according to that scheme. These premises should now be inspected in accordance with the frequencies set out in Paragraph 4.3.6 of the Code with effect from 1st April 2005 .
Summary of main changes to Codes of Practice:
- Replaces the existing eighteen Codes of Practice with one consolidated Code
- District Councils required where possible to implement the Home Authority Principle (1.1.7)
- District Councils required to participate in local and regional liaison arrangements (1.1.9)
- Food Standards Enforcement Officers should receive structured practical training in line with existing requirement for Food Hygiene (126.96.36.199.2)
- New advice to avoid potential conflicts of interest (1.3.2)
- A District Council must document in its Enforcement Policy its approach to ensuring compliance with food law in premises where itself is the proprietor (1.3.3)
- The requirement to advise the Agency of incidents has been strengthened (1.7.6; 1.7.9)
- “Food Alerts” and “Food Alert Updates” replace the current Food Hazard Warning system (Categories A to D) (2.1.1)
- There are new requirements for District Councils to ensure that any action specified by the Agency in a food alert is carried out, and to ensure any media release is consistent with information released by the Agency. (2.1.5; 2.1.6)
- District Councils are required to have procedures in place for dealing with FSA communications and for determining appropriate action (2.2.2)
- The need for District Councils to adopt enforcement policies which are reasonable, proportionate and consistent is reinforced and they are required to ensure that officers have up-to-date reference materials (3.1.3)
- Where food is voluntarily surrendered for destruction, a receipt should be issued that includes the time, place and method of destruction (3.4.7)
- New terminology of “primary” and “secondary” inspections and joint LACORS/FSA “inspection forms” (previously aide memoire) is introduced (4.1.2; 4.1.3)
- Premises should be inspected no later than 28 days after the due date (4.1.5)
- Businesses operating outside ordinary office hours as well as during office hours should be inspected “on occasions” outside office hours (4.1.12)
- An assessment of whether to take samples should normally be an integral part of every primary inspection, particularly in food manufacturing, packing and catering businesses (4.2.2)
- Significant breaches of food law must be addressed by appropriate enforcement action and the business concerned must be subject to additional secondary inspection (4.2.5)
- Premises subject to product specific hygiene regulations are excluded from the inspection rating scheme, and a minimum number of primary (one) and secondary (one or more) inspections per year are set (4.3.6)
- A new chapter is introduced on Inspection of Ships and Aircraft
- (Chapter 4.4)
- Inspection records to be kept for six years (4.5.4)
- District Councils may defer determination of an approval application for a short period to enable additional work to be completed as an alternative to refusal (5.1.8)
- New guidance provided on the use of enhanced enforcement powers in meat products and minced meat etc establishments (5.2.4)
- The existing food hygiene inspection rating scheme is amended (Annex 5)
- A new food standards inspection rating scheme is introduced, based on the same principles as the revised food hygiene scheme (Annex 5)
- Concept of “Alternative Enforcement Strategies” for low risk premises is introduced (Annex 5).
The review of the previous Codes of Practice included the consolidation and expansion of associated guidance into a Practice Guidance document. A major part of the Practice Guidance relates to premises subject to Product Specific Food Hygiene Regulations, which will be significantly affected by the introduction of the new EU Hygiene Regulations in January 2006. The Agency has therefore decided not to issue the Practice Guidance for Northern Ireland at this point in time. Councils should, where appropriate, continue to use existing guidance documents that have been issued by the NIFLG.
The Agency will keep the Code under continuous review and feedback from councils on its use would be helpful. A further review of the Code will be undertaken to address the need for any appropriate amendments resulting from the introduction of the new European Union food hygiene Regulations and Official Food and Feed Control Regulations in January 2006.
The Code can be found on the FSA web-site at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/nicodeofpractice.pdf
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