> Issuances of Food Standards Warnings to UK Businesses Rose 59% This Year - The Food Safety Company Issuances of Food Standards Warnings to UK Businesses Rose 59% This Year - The Food Safety Company
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    Wednesday, 23 November 2016

    Issuances of Food Standards Warnings to UK Businesses Rose 59% This Year

    Of the 600,000 food establishments in the UK, 23,056 were issued with food standards warnings between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, according to a new Food Standards Agency (FSA) report. It stands as a total increase of 59% on the previous year, which is said to be principally down to the recent introduction of stricter EU regulations regarding food allergen labelling, which came into force in December 2014.

    As the Telegraph reported in July, supermarket chain Lidl was forced to recall fruit yoghurts and packets of peanuts earlier this year because the packaging did not say that the products within contained milk and peanuts respectively.

    The regulation changes by the EU were described by the FSA as being designed to ‘help provide allergen ingredients information in a clearer and more consistent way.’ They have already changed the way in which food allergen labelling is presented: for example, labels which ‘provide a short cut to allergen ingredients information’ are no longer allowed; and loose foods which can be purchased without packaging (such as those in cafes and restaurants) need to be provided with allergen information if they contain any of the 14 allergens identified by the new legislation (some of which included eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, soya and lupin).

    Being an EU law, however, there is always the possibility that Britain’s exit from the European Union could either repeal or change it. We have considered before how the impending Brexit might affect food standards legislation and the regulations industry in general. In short: it is almost impossible to know at this stage. Despite the fact that food standards regulations were not necessarily large factors in the Brexit campaigns, it may not yet be time to conclude that Britain will be retaining EU guidelines in such a regard.

    It is worth considering, for example, that if dissent towards things like ‘red tape’ were to grow in the coming months in the wake of reports such as the one in this particular case, food standards regulations might be pulled into the centre ground as a more important issue in Britain’s overall outlook going forwards. Many, for instance, could think it unnecessary for businesses to put allergen labels which say ‘contains milk’ onto yoghurt products; and if such a sentiment were to morph into a desire to rescind certain pieces of EU food legislation which are perceived as being obtuse, British legislators might be compelled to change the existing laws around allergen labelling; including, potentially, that which was introduced in December 2014 in relation to allergen labelling. It is certainly, therefore, possible that such figures as those in the chart above will be subject to change once again in the coming years.

    Nonetheless, speculation aside, it is clear that such a dramatic increase in the number of food standards warnings issued against food businesses in the UK has been a net effect of the new regulations introduced by the European Union, rather than being due to a slip in quality of food manufacturers or standards in UK businesses themselves.

    James Stannard

    James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London.  
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