The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have this week launched ‘Our Food: An Annual Review of food standards across the UK.’ It is the first in a series of reports to be published, and arguably the most significant – being the first to look at the effects of both the pandemic and Brexit on the industry.
As food hygiene inspections ground to a halt in 2020 and many hospitality businesses were forced to pivot their businesses in order to stay solvent, there were concerns that food hygiene standards may have been compromised.
However, the report concludes that “with a degree of caution,” food standards in the UK have been largely maintained.
Nevertheless, it cautions that there are hurdles ahead for the industry. The number of inspections missed as a result of the pandemic, as well as nationwide staff shortages in local authorities, are still having an impact. Additionally, the delay in establishing full UK import controls for high-risk food and feed from the EU, has reduced the ability to prevent the entry of unsafe food into the UK.
Susan Jebb, Chair of the FSA said it was “encouraging for UK consumers” that high food standards in the UK have been upheld, despite the industry going through a “really tough period.”
“However, we are under no illusions that there are major challenges ahead. Establishing full UK import controls on food from the EU by the end of next year is a priority.”
“As the report also points out, local authority inspections declined during the reporting period…local authorities continue to face resourcing complaints which could affect progress.
We, along with partners in government, must all make sure that the current challenges in the food system are resolved in a way that puts us on course for a safe[r], healthier and more sustainable future food system.”
NCASS CEO, Alan Fox said:
“The report concludes that in spite of unprecedented challenges faced by the industry over the last two years, hospitality businesses have maintained high food safety standards. We’re proud of the many NCASS members who not only managed to pivot their businesses to takeaway and delivery models throughout the pandemic, but also refused to compromise on the quality and safety of their product.
Safety and compliance are at the heart of everything we do at NCASS, and we’re proud that our safety management system, as well as the support and guidance we offer our members, have facilitated food safety at a difficult time for the industry.”