Date Published: 31 March 2010

A new Operations Group for the Food Standards Agency

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced in July 2009 its intention to form a new Operations Group in 2010. This will take effect from 1 April 2010 when the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) and FSA merge.

The FSA Operations Group will streamline and improve the Agency’s approach to compliance with official food and feed controls across the United Kingdom and will support the Agency’s priority to always put consumers first.

Tim Smith, FSA Chief Executive, said: 'Creation of the FSA Operations Group will improve the effectiveness of the FSA as a regulator, improve public health protection, and build on and strengthen our relationship with our stakeholders. It will also help us to deliver the commitments set out in our Strategic Plan for the next five years.'

The Operations Group will have UK responsibility for delivery of official controls (such as dairy hygiene, eggs and shellfish) through other enforcement agencies including the Department for Food and Rural Affairs Animal Health, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate. Additionally, the Group will continue to work closely to support the work of Local Authority enforcement of food and feed hygiene and food standards.

All existing regulatory functions undertaken by MHS operational staff in approved meat premises will continue to be undertaken by the same staff in the same way. As the MHS does not operate in Northern Ireland, the equivalent service will continue to be provided by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on behalf of the Agency.

Anticipated benefits of the new Operations Group include:

  • Providing coordinated and consistent support to UK food and feed businesses and delivery partners to help compliance with official controls and other statutory requirements.
  • Ensuring that regulation is effective, risk-based and proportionate.
  • Improving the sharing of knowledge, information and expertise throughout the Operations Group to provide a better understanding of which interventions are most effective in delivering compliance.
  • A consistent and targeted UK approach will contribute to improvements in public protection of food safety and a reduction in instances of foodborne illness.
  • A structure that will help deliver strategic objectives in line with external expectations and drivers – for example, the recommendations arising from the 2009 Report of the Public Inquiry into the September 2005 outbreak of E.coli O157 in South Wales and recommendations of EU Food and Veterinary Office Missions.
  • Driving internal improvements for efficiency and effectiveness, freeing up resources to enable work on the issues that will really make a difference to food safety.
  • Savings of approximately £2 million are forecast to be generated through the merger, mainly through back office efficiencies.
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Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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