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Self-Regulation: Is this another banking crisis?

The Food Standards Agency is proposing changes to the way in which some larger businesses will be regulated, allowing them to manage their own food safety without local authority intervention. Some say that this is a step too far, just four years after we had the horsemeat crisis which affected several supermarkets and ended some manufacturing brands.

But what does this mean?

The reality is, that many of the major supermarkets have been working with a form of self-regulation for many years through the Home Authority and Primary Authority schemes. They are sharing safety data with their local authority partners to demonstrate their good intentions and success behind the policies that the Primary Authority has signed off as acceptable. As a result, some local authorities have ceased routine inspections of Health & Safety in supermarkets and will only visit where there has been an incident or there is concern over standards.

So why shouldn’t this work for Food Safety as well?

This relaxing of local authority visits is only likely be offered to businesses who can show commitment to food safety through their own measurements, this may be through internal systems or using consultancies. Either way businesses will require sufficient data to demonstrate compliance.

It is also worth noting that such a scheme is unlikely to prevent authorities from performing interventions where there are complaints or a cause for concern, and such an intervention may have an impact on that businesses’ future in the scheme. Managed correctly, this could be a huge help in countering some of the budget restrictions in local authorities whilst ensuring that the businesses needing the most focus and support continue to receive it, keeping consumers safe at every step.


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