Consultations into a controversial shake-up of food law already begun in England and Northern Ireland is set to start in Wales shortly, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed.
However, Wales will be given 14 weeks to consult on the plans, much longer than the four-week period given to England and Northern Ireland, which closes today (10 December).
A consultation on this issue was delayed in Wales after Public Protection Wales (PPW) wrote to the FSA in October, urging it to postpone. PPW argued EH and trading standards officers were tied up with frontline pandemic work, which meant officers didn’t have “adequate time” for "meaningful" consultation.
Proposed changes aim to assist authorities in recruiting more widely to fill existing and future vacancies in food control, via changes to the food law code of practice, and with a move from a profession-based approach to a competency framework.
Wales has been given a longer consultation period due to the same “additional pressures” in pandemic workload that led to FSA agreeing to postpone. A spokesperson said: “I know the additional pressures are being felt everywhere, but I think in particular in Wales.”
On whether the consultation period in England and Northern Ireland will be extended, in light of this news, it is thought unlikely and deadlines are still set for today. However, the spokesperson said that different deadlines may have implications for rolling out any changes, “that may well mean that there's a time difference between codes going out in England and Northern Ireland versus Wales.”