The Food Standards Agency has published a new Feed Law Code of Practice for England. This came into force on 6 May 2014 and includes an increased use of earned recognition which should see farm businesses benefit from a reduction in the overall number of inspections carried out.
Following a period of consultation the FSA has revised the Feed Law code of practice in England. The Code of practice is directed at Local Authorities responsible for the delivery of official controls for feed as specified in the Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005. Local Authorities, as the designated competent authority, will need to have regard to and follow the code when carrying out this inspection regime and inspecting feed businesses. The changes to the code are therefore for Local Authorities to take into account and include a greater use of competence based criteria for the use of officials. The code however does make changes to include an increased use of earned recognition which should see farm businesses benefit from a reduction in the overall number of inspections carried out.
The revised code has resulted from a 2012 Food Standards Agency review of local authority delivery of official feed controls. In November 2012 the FSA Board agreed to recommendations to improve current local authority delivery. A major aspect of the required changes was a revision of the Feed Law Code of practice. The new code was developed after consultation with stakeholders in September 2013 to which the NFU responded.
While the changes will mainly impact on local authorities the NFU response welcomed the increased use of earned recognition for compliant feed businesses. The changes mean that feed business operators who demonstrably maintain high standards of feed safety by taking appropriate steps to comply with the law, may have these standards recognised by the Competent Authority when determining the frequency of their official controls and therefore earn recognition. The code describes two approaches as to how a feed business may qualify for earned recognition:
- A business which is not a member of an assurance scheme but demonstrates broad compliance; or
- A business which is a member of an approved assurance scheme and demonstrates satisfactory or broad compliance.
The NFU is supportive of an earned recognition approach where businesses which continually meet high standards and seek to improve their knowledge, competence and performance are rewarded with a reduced likelihood of inspection. This approach also brings benefits to regulators in terms of better targeting of resources towards higher risk premises allowing for an increased chance of identifying any potential problems.
The revised code and the associated Code of Practice can be found on the FSA website.