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FSA warns of significant challenges to food safety

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland have published an annual review of food safety standards across the UK. The review describes the key changes in food standards from 2019 to 2021. This is the period when the UK’s food system was affected by exiting the EU and the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The review covers diet and food choices, food imports and their impacts on standards, trends in food incidents and food crime and hygiene standards in food.

The review recognises that despite significant pressures on the food industry, caused by Brexit, the pandemic and the impact of war in Ukraine, food standards have largely been maintained. However, the review warns of challenges ahead, specifically due to a fall in the level of local authority inspections of food businesses, in turn caused by the resourcing pressures being faced by local authorities.

In addition, the delay in establishing full UK import controls for high-risk food and feed from the EU continues to reduce the UK’s ability to prevent the entry of unsafe food into the UK market. The chair of the FSA, Susan Jebb, states that “Establishing full UK import controls on food by the end of next year from the EU is a priority. The longer the UK operates without assurance that products from the EU meet our high food and feed safety standards, the less confident we can be that we can effectively identify potential safety incidents.

The full report can be read here.