FSA seeks views on own regulatory function

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fsa, Consumer protection, Consumer

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has launched a consultation into its own performance as a regulator, a process seen as important in case of politically motivated actions.

The agency published its Framework for Decision Making in December 2006, in which it set out its visions, values and principles for intervention in the regulatory process. The document promised to review the framework after two years.

The consultation forms part of that review process. Stakeholders are invited to answer key questions on the FSA’s regulatory interventions and focus – including whether the interventions are evidence based, proportionate and risk based.

Elizabeth Hyde, solicitor at international law firm Eversheds said of the consultation:

“While the FSA is to be congratulated for its openness in seeking stakeholders' views, there have been occasions when the FSA has not always acted as the reasonable and proportionate regulator but rather on the basis of political motives.

“It will therefore be interesting to see the response received to the consultation and any resulting action taken by the FSA.”

Hyde encouraged any organizations that may have been affected by the FSA’s actions to take advantage of the opportunity and give feedback of where it has not met objectives.

Questions

The key questions included in the consultation are:

  • To what extent would you say that the FSA’s regulatory interventions are evidence-based, proportionate, and risk-based; use the market, where appropriate, to achieve change; focus on practical and deliverable solutions; minimise regulatory and administrative burdens where this does not compromise outcomes; drive improvement and reward good performance, while seeking firm action against those who persistently fail to meet acceptable standards, or negligently expose the consumer to serious risk; take account of ethical issues surrounding food?

  • To what extent would you say that as a regulator the FSA supports voluntary approaches, using the market to achieve change, provided they deliver proportionate consumer protection and are consistent with the requirements of EU law; expects businesses to act responsibly, and encourages and recognises those that do so; seeks to work collaboratively with responsible businesses, and/or their representative organisations, to protect consumers; works with enforcement bodies to help responsible businesses comply and to penalise those that are wilfully and repeatedly noncompliant, or seriously negligent with respect to consumer safety; works with other regulators to minimise the burdens on businesses, for example through joint inspection regimes and data sharing, where this does not jeopardise regulatory outcomes?

  • Whether regulations on food should focus primarily on making sure food is safe; healthy eating for all; making sure food information is comprehensive and easy to understand; setting food compositional quality standards; making it as simple as possible for businesses to comply and so perhaps keeping down prices and keeping a wide range of products?

Phase two

The consultation process runs until 9 October 2009. At the same time, a contractor will carry out reviews with FSA policy makers over the summer, and the FSA will also be looking at other available relevant data.

In late autumn a new draft version of the Regulatory Framework will be published and put out for four months consultation. A final revised version is expected to be published in early 2010.

The consultation documents are available at http://www.food.gov.uk/consultations/consulteng/2009/reviewofregulatoryframeworkeng

Related topics: Policy

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