News that farm assured pig farmers are facing a reduced
level of statutory inspections for food safety and hygiene,
is a major fillip to the pig industry says the British
Pig Executive (BPEX).
This pragmatic risk-based approach is the direct
result of the industry working together with the Food Standards
Agency (FSA) and local authorities. The FSA's announcement
- a lower frequency of food hygiene inspections by Local
Authorities for assured pig units - will reduce the burden
on farm businesses, local authorities, and tax payers.
This announcement follows the introduction, in January
2006, of new EU legislation (Regulation EC 852/2002) on
the hygiene of foodstuffs which required food safety and
hygiene inspections to be extended to primary producers
- including pig farms for the first time.
The new inspection scheme promotes an enforcement system
based upon risk, and by using the evidence from farm assurance
scheme membership, this has reduced the burden on industry
and enforcers, enabling resources to be focussed on targeting
potentially high-risk premises.
BPEX Chief Executive Mick Sloyan said: This is saving
farmers time and offering improved bio-security because
there will be fewer visitors coming onto each unit.
"This move is a direct recognition of the high standards
to which farm assured units already operate and demonstrates
another benefit of being assured.
"Farm assurance is a vital link in the Quality Standard
Mark chain. It is based on integrated whole chain assurance
from farm to finished product all subject to independent
audit to recognised international standards.
"I hope this principle of risk-based regulation can
be extended to other areas of the pig production and processing
industry in the near future.
The FSA estimates total savings each year will be around £500,000
(in saved time) for the farming industry and £2 million
for local authorities across the UK.
Philip Clarke, Head of the FSA's Better Regulation and
Consultation Branch, said: "The Agency is firmly committed
to reducing regulatory burdens, while still maintaining
the highest levels of consumer protection.
"The initiative will help focus inspections and make
regulations simpler - this will benefit farmers, local
authorities, and consumers - as we believe making compliance
with the law simpler will increase levels of compliance."
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