Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) review of Food Law Enforcement in Wales will be published today 19 July 2012. A copy of the report and the Welsh Governments response is shared with Assembly Members for information.
On 25 August 2010 the First Minister asked the FSA to conduct a review of food law enforcement across Wales. The review had three specific areas of focus:
- To provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the current systems.
- To describe how resource allocation is linked to measurable outcomes.
- To advise on whether there are other models that would be more effective in delivering public protection, providing improved value for money, providing improved consistency of enforcement or improving overall management and governance of the service.
The Food Standards Agency presented their final report of a review of Food Law Enforcement in Wales on 20 September 2011. At that presentation, the First Minister commissioned an addendum to the report to consider options on the creation of a national food law enforcement service for Wales. The FSA finalised this work and submitted it to the First Minister on 15 December 2011.
The First Minister asked me to lead on the Welsh Government response. I have therefore considered the report, together with the addendum.
I can confirm that at the current time, I do not wish to make any radical changes to the way food safety controls are delivered in Wales. This includes the option of creating a new body to enforce food safety in Wales. I think it is important we await and take account of the outcome of the FSA wider UK review of food safety that is considering alternative approaches to deliver food safety controls in the UK before proposing any key changes in Wales. The FSA Board are currently due to consider recommendations relating to the future delivery of official controls at its open meeting in July 2013.
In terms of the 3 main recommendations of the original report, I set out below the Welsh Government’s response:-
Recommendation 1 (Not accepted)
The formula for determining the budget allocated for food safety enforcement should be re-weighted to take more account of the number of food premises in each local authority area rather than the size of the population.
Response: The FSA have not provided a formula and this would need to be modelled to establish what the breakdown might be. We are not convinced that this will have much of a beneficial effect particularly as the existing nominal allocation is currently not being spent on food safety.
Recommendation 2 (Partially accepted)
Local authorities in Wales should be urged to maintain a level of funding for food law enforcement teams that is no lower than the nominal allocation made for this service. The FSA should annually publish a comparison of the Indicator Based Assessment and Net Revenue Expenditure for food law enforcement by local authorities in Wales.
Response: We consider that “urging” might be seen as hypothecation through the ”back door”. We would however like to see local authorities fully spend their allocations on food safety but would like to examine how this might be achieved. We propose to consider the issue further in the context of the discussions we are currently having with local authorities on how to introduce more collaboration in the administration and delivery of environmental health services.
Recommendation 3 (Accepted)
The FSA recommends that a Welsh national feed inspection and enforcement service is formed as part of the FSA, with a focus on effective, consistent and risk-based enforcement.
Response: The FSA indicate that Directors of Public Protection Wales (DPPW) have agreed that whilst those currently delivering the service have expertise there is a shortfall of officers to ensure consistent delivery. We agree that the centralisation of feed law enforcement in Wales would provide a better delivery model for this specialist service but we would like to examine how this might be best achieved. We propose to consider the issue further in the context of the discussions we are currently having with local authorities about how to introduce more collaboration in the administration and delivery of trading standards services.
I will be meeting with Lord Jeff Rooker, FSA Chair, in September to discuss the review and the progress of the recommendations.
I am grateful for the work the Food Standards Agency has carried out.