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This conference examined priorities for food safety in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, looking at next steps for policy, regulation, industry action and international relationships.
It was a timely opportunity for key stakeholders and policymakers to assess approaches to food safety policy, with possible structural changes in the oversight of food safety regulatory bodies in the UK.
The discussion took place with increased concern over the potential for food fraud and sale of unsafe food in the UK post-Brexit.
Delegates considered priorities for ensuring food safety against the backdrop of heightened pressures, including costs for consumers, the food industry and local authorities, as well as the expected introduction of the Border Target Operating Model by the UK and devolved governments, starting with health certification in January 2024.
Further sessions examined options for regulation going forward.
Delegates considered the potential to move away from present EU models of regulating safety and standards of food products and intelligence sharing, and shifting from a hazard-based to a risk-based approach.
It was also an opportunity to examine proposed policy updates following the FSA consultation for a modernised food hygiene delivery model.
Issues for discussion included disparities in food hygiene practice between England and devolved administrations, support required by local authorities and businesses for implementation, as well as consumer priorities and stakeholder engagement with these models.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy, Food Standards Agency; Professor Alan Boobis, Emeritus Professor of Toxicology, Imperial College London; and Chair of the Committee on Toxicity; and Kate Halliwell, Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation.
Sessions in the agenda included:
- UK food safety: priorities for the FSA
- the food sector: key issues for the role of the sector in maintaining the safety and quality of food in the UK
- challenges for food hygiene and standards: cost pressures for consumers and industry - differing approaches to hygiene ratings - post-Brexit bureaucracy - resource and enforcement capabilities
- food fraud: scale and trends - emerging risks - international agreements and intelligence sharing - priorities for border controls and surveillance
- regulation: options for the UK going forward - latest thinking on a move from a hazard-based to a risk-based approach
- food safety and integrity: priorities for ensuring standards in the UK - developing effective strategies for achieving positive health and environmental outcomes
- policy: the future for food standards and safety, and regulatory structures in the UK
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from APHA; DAERA, NI; DAFM, ROI; DBT; Defra; DESNZ; DHSC; DoH, ROI; DWP; FSA; FSS; Home Office; VMD; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons.