Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

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The future of food standards, safety and regulation in the UK

Morning, Wednesday, 14th July 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the next steps for food standards, safety and regulation in the UK.


Taking place following the Trade and Agriculture Commission’s final report, and in a changing commercial landscape with the development of new trade deals, this conference will be an opportunity to discuss the key strategic priorities going forward to protect food standards - and opportunities for the UK to play a leading role on the global stage.


With the Government setting out its agenda for improving animal welfare in the Queen’s Speech - including a new action plan and developing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway for the production of healthier animals - delegates will discuss what this raising of standards in domestic policy means for food standards in trade deals and food imports.


The conference will also be a timely opportunity to discuss the way forward for food safety and regulation against a backdrop of significant change, as:

  • the UK sets its own course for regulation and standards following Brexit
  • the sector faces challenges in the wake of COVID-19
  • developments in consumer preferences, and opportunities they present for novel foods and other areas of innovation, as well as new approaches being adopted by food and drink businesses

Delegates will assess the implications for UK food safety, standards and regulation, as well as the outlook for the sector, and priorities for conditions and pressures arising from future trade deals.


We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions at this conference from Emily Miles, Chief Executive Officer, Food Standards Agency; Helen Munday, President, Institute of Food Science & Technology; and Tom Forshaw, Senior Analyst, Policy, AHDB - as well as contributions from Addleshaw Goddard; Burges Salmon; BSI Group; the Chartered Trading Standards Institute; Fera Science; Food Standards Australia New Zealand; Tate & Lyle PLC; UK Hospitality; and Which?.


Areas for discussion include:

  • food regulation following exit from the EU - assessing the UK’s approach, and the future for regulatory collaboration and cooperation
  • the impact of the pandemic - its effect on the regulatory landscape, and overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19
  • regulatory reform - assessing progress, as well as identifying further areas and options for change
  • keeping pace - what more can be done to help local authorities, safety professionals and the food industry as they adapt in an evolving, and increasingly diverse and innovative environment
  • policy and international relationships - the future of food standards in the UK, and the outlook for future trade deals and their impact

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; the Food Standards Agency; DHSC; DIT; the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Welsh Government; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons.


The agenda

  • Priorities for food regulation in the UK and adapting to current and future challenges
  • Key issues for food safety during the pandemic and beyond - responding to local-level challenges in enforcement, supporting businesses, adapting to innovation and food sector changes, and developing a flexible regulatory approach
  • Utilising the latest science and technology in the evolving food safety and standards landscape
  • The outlook for future UK trade deals and their potential impact on food standards
  • The future for food standards in the UK - consumer choice and preferences, trading priorities, regulatory cooperation and cross-border collaboration, and taking forward the UK’s regulatory framework
  • Next steps and opportunities for food standards in the UK’s food and trade sector

Key areas for discussion:

Food regulation following exit from the EU:

  • managing the transition - building capacity and developing the UK’s regulatory framework, as well as assessing the preparations made and delivery so far
  • the UK’s approach - setting out the regulatory framework, and identifying areas of potential divergence or consideration going forward
  • wider policy developments and divergence - keeping pace following the UK’s exit from the EU, and maintaining a safe food environment in light of developments such as gene editing
  • the future relationship with the EU - the outlook for regulatory collaboration and cooperation
  • consumer priorities - the impact on developing preferences and concerns around food safety and quality, health, diversity, and innovation, as well as what it means for options on future trade deals
  • priorities for UK surveillance - and identifying any areas where improved understanding is required after taking over control from the EU
  • financial sustainability - and addressing concerns outlined by the NAO in ensuring safety in future trade, as well as other potential risks going forward
  • the Regulating Our Future programme - assessing the progress made, and further options for regulatory reform
  • regulation of novel foods - priorities for creating an effective framework for assessing new foods and methods of production

Addressing challenges in food safety at the local level:

  • inspections and enforcement - management in local areas during the pandemic, and looking at issues that have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic
  • inspections backlog - identifying the resources and strategic pathway needed to catch up, as well as priorities for reform to improve efficiency
  • keeping pace with change:
    • the impact of the pandemic on food safety trends around domestic food production, takeaway offerings, and the use of online platforms
    • assessing how regulation has responded through the pandemic, and how it can become more flexible to adapt to the changes occurring in the food sector
    • adapting to changes brought on by climate change, and keeping to wider net-zero targets
  • innovation - key considerations for what is needed from the regulatory approach, and ways of supporting innovation, enforcement and risk management at a local level
  • utilising technological developments - how technology itself and data analytics can improve risk management, and establish a more efficient alert system
  • compliance and collaboration - supporting food business compliance through a challenging operating environment, and priorities for collaboration through the development of regulatory reform

The outlook for future trade deals and the future for food standards in the UK:

  • the changing trade landscape - latest insight and analysis of future trade deals and their development, and assessing the potential risks posed by the deals to food standards
  • protecting standards - the advice of the Trade and Agriculture Commission on trade strategy, and its potential impact on protecting UK food and environmental standards
  • leadership in food standards - harnessing opportunities presented for the UK
  • transparency - priorities for the development of future trade deals, and the role of an updated Trade and Agriculture Commission in providing an advisory role in the development process
  • collaboration within the UK - opportunities for cross-border collaboration and regulatory cooperation across the UK
  • future outlook - taking forward the UK’s regulatory approach and adapting to future trade deals and any impacts on food safety

A scan of relevant developments:

  • The UK's approach to international agri-food trade: MPs to hear from Trade and Agriculture Commission - EFRA Committee scrutiny of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, looking at the approach taken to protect food standards whilst liberalising trade and support for food exports in their report
  • the Government’s animal welfare agenda set out in the Queen’s speech - including an action plan, and the development of an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway for production of healthier animals
  • UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement - setting out the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU, and marking the end of the transition period as the FSA formally takes over regulatory processes in the UK
  • Trade and Agriculture Commission: Final Report - providing advice on the key aspects that need to be considered in developing the UK’s trade strategy in order to protect food standards
  • Trade and Agriculture Commission put on statutory footing - with the Commission no longer being disbanded, and now playing a role in the development of future trade deals, advising on maintaining standards, supporting UK farming, and identifying export opportunities
  • Agriculture Act 2020 - which was passed:
    • with the inclusion of putting the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a statutory footing, after calls for the bill to include more protections on UK food standards in future trade deals
    • without a commitment not to lower food standards in future imports
  • Food and feed safety and hygiene: provisional common framework - outlining the ways in which food and feed policy areas will be worked on across UK nations, and how to manage approaches between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • A vision for working together - the FSA Chief Executive outlining the future relationship with local authorities, and their need to be able to respond to the changing landscape of the food sector and changing consumer preferences to provide effective risk management
  • the FSA’s Regulating Our Future programme - aimed at creating a more modern, flexible, and responsive regulatory system
  • Ensuring Food Safety and Standards - the report by the NAO raising concerns over the financial sustainability of the regulatory system going forward
  • Risk Analysis report of the FSA’s Chief Scientific Adviser - setting out the use of science and evidence in the future approach to risk analysis
  • FSA’s Guidance for Food Businesses on Coronavirus:
    • outlining the responsibilities of the food sector in ensuring food safety during the pandemic
    • further guidance released around adapting and reopening food businesses during COVID-19
  • the extension of FSA’s advice until June 2021 - enabling delays in the inspection of lower risk food businesses, aimed at local authorities prioritising high risk inspections due to pressures from COVID
  • update for businesses on CBD novel food applications - a provisional list of CBD products that can stay on the UK market has been established following the FSA call for applications for safety assessment

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament, and officials from DAERA, NI; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Drinking Water Inspectorate; the Food Standards Agency; Food Standards Scotland; the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; the National Audit Office; the National Food Crime Unit; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from representatives of the agriculture and food and drink industry - including associations, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers - local government officials, trading standards, representatives of the agritech and crop science industries, academics, consultancies and law firms, international attendees, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speaker

Emily Miles

Chief Executive Officer, Food Standards Agency

Keynote Speakers

Tom Forshaw

Senior Analyst, Policy, AHDB

Emily Miles

Chief Executive Officer, Food Standards Agency

Helen Munday

President, Institute of Food Science & Technology

Chairs

Deidre Brock MP

Co-Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Food and Drink

Jo Gideon MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on the National Food Strategy

Speakers

David Young

Partner, Addleshaw Goddard

Dr Emma Bradley

Head of Food Quality and Safety, Fera Science

Dr Sally-Ann Krzyzaniak

Director, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, EMEA, Tate & Lyle PLC

Sian Edmunds

Partner, Burges Salmon

Erica Colson

Regional Head of Sector Marketing, EMEA Food & Retail, BSI Group

Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive Officer, UK Hospitality

David Pickering

Team Manager, Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards and Lead Officer for Food, Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Sue Davies

Head of Consumer Protection and Food Policy, Which?

Professor Mark Booth

Chief Executive Officer, Food Standards Australia New Zealand