A change in the approach to how farms are inspected will lead to significant savings in terms of time and costs for thousands of farms and local authorities around the country, while also benefiting consumers, the Food Standards Agency said today.

The initiative, following EU legislation and developed by the Agency in partnership with local authorities and industry, involves membership of a recognised farm assurance scheme. This will mean a lower frequency of food hygiene inspections, thereby reducing burdens on that business and benefiting farmers, local authorities, and consumers.

The Agency estimates that savings each year will be around £571,000 for farmers and £2million for local authorities across the UK.

Philip Clarke, Head of the FSA's Better Regulation and Consultation Branch, said: 'The Agency is firmly committed to reducing regulatory burdens on food businesses, while still maintaining the highest levels of consumer protection. The initiative announced today will help focus inspections and make regulations simpler - this will benefit farmers, local authorities, and consumers - as we believe making compliance with the law simpler will increase levels of compliance.'

As a result of these changes, whereby membership of farm assurance schemes drives inspection frequency, inspections will spotlight farming sectors identified as having a higher food safety risk. Philip Clarke added: 'Focusing the efforts of local authorities on high-risk premises in this way should improve consumer protection as enforcement action would be targeted where the risks occur.'

Information was provided by the Food Standards Agency to local authorities about 102,000 farms in England during March and April this year, so that they could start applying the new enforcement regime.

Food Standards Agency

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