Time running out for reform of food safety laws

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jebb: 'We think a new UK Food and Feed Bill would provide the best opportunity for a comprehensive rethink, tailored to the needs of the UK'
Jebb: 'We think a new UK Food and Feed Bill would provide the best opportunity for a comprehensive rethink, tailored to the needs of the UK'

Related tags: Food safety

The Brexit Freedoms Bill could open the door to a total reform of food standards and safety in the UK, but time is running out to do so, according to Food Standards Agency (FSA) chair Susan Jebb.

This bill, also known as the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, has been introduced to allow ministers to replace EU regulations and directives with new domestic legislation. It will ‘sunset’ any remaining laws at the end of 2023. 

Jebb warned that any EU regulations and directives pertaining to food safety will be repealed automatically unless it’s decided to extend, preserve or replace them before the end of 2023. 

Without suitable replacements for – or a decision to carry over – existing rulings, food standards in the UK could be at risk of declining as a result. However, Jebb made it clear that the FSA would not allow this to happen. 

Time is running out  

“In the FSA, we are clear that we cannot simply sunset the laws on food safety and authenticity without a decline in UK food standards and a significant risk to public health,”​ said Jebb. “While I’m sure this is not the Government’s intention with these plans, the current timeframe does cause me some concern.   

“We will need to work through more than 150 pieces of retained EU law very quickly and to advise ministers on how best to incorporate important rules that safeguard food safety and public health within our domestic legislation. This is a very challenging task, and it inevitably means that we will have to deprioritise other important work.” 

The FSA will take this opportunity to review and reform existing laws so that businesses have the right regulation to enable them to provide safe and trusted food, to trade internationally and grow, Jebb claimed. 

Tailored for the UK 

“In due course, we think a new UK Food and Feed Bill would provide the best opportunity for a comprehensive rethink, tailored to the needs of the UK,​” she added. “Our experience tells us that developing policy in an evidence-based, open and transparent way is better for consumers and for businesses, but this takes time to get it right.” 

Jebb appealed to those with thoughts and insight on the Retained EU Law Bill and its potential effects on food law to get in touch with the FSA.  

Meanwhile, there is still time to watch the Food Manufacture free webinar Food Safety Briefing – Old Threats, Fresh Thinking​,​ which boasts a line-up of senior experts across the sector. 

Related topics: Business

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