Leading food-safety experts have urged the UK Government to halt plans to outsource food safety inspections to private companies.
The proposals would, according to a new report published today by the Food Research Collaboration, endanger public health and damage UK food exporters after Brexit.
The report by Professors Erik Millstone at the University of Sussex and Tim Lang at City, University of London, questions why the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is pushing forward with a programme of change (called Regulating Our Future – or ROF) that will destabilise the institutions responsible for enforcing food safety standards.
The report shows that ROF will:
- make the UK’s food supply less safe by further weakening systems that are already too weak.
- create irreconcilable conflicts of interests – instead of public officials inspecting food businesses, the companies will choose who will ‘mark their homework’.
- hand over responsibility for food safety inspections and audits to private commercial third-party providers, when outsourcing to private companies has already been shown to be more expensive, less reliable, and in the case of Carillion unsustainable.
- undermine the 1999 Food Safety Act, which assumed that safety and quality standards would be enforced by adequately trained and resourced local authority Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) in collaboration with Public Analysts – ROF undermines that expectation.
The briefing paper Weakening UK food law enforcement: a risky tactic in Brexit is available at: http://foodresearch.org.uk/publications/weakening-uk-food-law-enforcement/