The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported today that it has acted on recommendations from a government review by making it easier for businesses to appeal against food safety and food standards decisions and advice issued by local authorities. The recommendations were part of the government’s Focus on Enforcement Review that considered enforcement of regulation in small food manufacturing businesses.
A new and dedicated business appeals section at www.food.gov.uk/business-appeal explains what businesses should expect from local authority inspections, how to determine if food safety officer actions or requirements are reasonable (and if there are grounds for an appeal), and, in England, how to challenge local authority decisions or actions through a new panel called the Independent Business Appeals Panel.
The new web section includes information about:
- the best way to approach local authorities and councillors;
- existing informal and statutory appeals associated with formal enforcement actions;
- decisions by local authorities relating to the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland;
- using the Primary Authority Partnership;
- recognised industry guides on compliance standards which have been developed with industry – these provide practical guidance for business across a range of sectors which can be used to determine whether local authority requirements are appropriate
- advice about trade associations and bodies able to provide assistance and informal advice.
About the Independent Business Appeals Panel (England only)
The FSA has set up the Independent Business Appeals Panel that will consider disputes regarding advice of a technical nature where local authority complaints procedures have been exhausted, but the process has not resulted in agreement.
The panel will not consider Food Hygiene Rating Scheme ratings, Food Hygiene Information Scheme inspection results, or formal enforcement actions because these are already covered by existing appeals mechanisms.
The panel comprises independent members that have the necessary competence and experience to assess advice on food safety and food standards regulatory matters. The panel’s role will be advisory. However, there is an expectation that local authorities will take the findings into account where appropriate.
More information about how a business can make an appeal and the independent panel can be found here.