UK: 'Food police' set to patrol retailers : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

'Food police' set to patrol retailers

by Ross Davies A new wave of red tape is set to engulf Britain's half a million-plus food retailers as they are forced to comply with complex new European safety regulations. Heavy fines and extra staff costs could close many businesses, restrict consumer choice and drive up prices.

Supermarkets, corner shops, bakers and even ice-cream vendors are among the many kinds of food retailer that will be affected by the creation of a European Food Authority (EUFA), due to start next year. EUFA will have the power to withdraw a food seller's licence to trade if, for example, the retailer cannot keep up with the new agency's demands for paperwork.

Detailed records of all the ingredients used in food and of where the ingredients come from will have to be kept. 'EUFA's regulations will be enforced by 'food police', and this means the end of the road for thousands of small enterprises like bed-and-breakfasts, sandwich shops and 'special-event' caterers,' said Roy Maugham, a partner in accountants Hacker Young, which advises many food retailers.

Hacker Young is advising clients to talk to MPs and trade associations now about what it calls 'this threat to your assets and livelihood'.

Cleanliness and good hygiene practice is in everyone's interest, the adviser says, but it warns that the totally sterile conditions EUFA will demand are 'practically impossible' for most food businesses.

Last year, British health inspectors checked 381,617 food establishments and found minor breaches of existing regulations in almost half.

EUFA will be an additional layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing national Food Standards Agency, and has an enthusiastic supporter in the Government, which thinks, however, that EUFA does not go far enough, and has told Brussels of 'concern' that the current proposals are too vague and muddled.

'There is concern that the proposals for a European Food Standards Agency do not fully address the need to integrate the processes of risk assessment, risk management and risk communication,' was the Government's formal response.

Maugham said: 'Imagine a small operator making 20 types of sandwich or meal, and trying to document the source of each ingredient every time - you would need a geography degree to run a transport cafe.'

-- Martin Thompson (, April 05, 2001

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