The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a revised food law code of practice and introduced a competency framework for England and Northern Ireland.
The FSA in Wales is still consulting on the changes, which is open until next Thursday (25 March). When the news broke that the FSA planned to makes these changes it was met with some controversy within the sector.
The FSA said the changes involved a “modernisation of the baseline knowledge, skills and experience requirements” to allow a wider cohort of EH and trading standards officers in England, and EH in Northern Ireland, to undertake official food controls.
Existing competency requirements in the codes have been replaced with a framework defined by competency, rather than by role. A provision has also been added to allow local authorities to deviate from the code in special circumstances under guidance from the FSA.
The FSA said it had made the changes following consideration of the responses it received from the consultation. It said the codes reflected “current priorities, policy and legislative requirements” so that food control activities by local authorities and port health authorities remained “effective, consistent, and proportionate.”
Maria Jennings, director for regulatory compliance, people and Northern Ireland, said further reviews of the codes are expected over “the next few years”. This, she said, was in order to bring in the FSA’s modernisation programme, reforming the regulatory delivery to ensure a “fit-for-purpose and sustainable regime that will protect consumers”.
Jennings added: “We’re committed to broad regulatory reform that will help local authorities and port health authorities target their skilled people where they are most needed.
“The revised codes, practice guidance and introduction of the competency framework will facilitate more effective use of key professionals and will enable individuals with other qualifications to be recruited to undertake specified activities.
“This will help alleviate the challenges local authorities face in recruiting suitable people to deliver their food service.”
“There will be further reviews of the Codes over the next few years to implement the FSA’s modernisation programme for reforming the regulatory delivery model to ensure we have a fit-for-purpose and sustainable regime that will protect consumers”.
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