News added on 14.01.2019

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Food safety

Keeping food safe - new guidance

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a consultation on its new guidance on food safety withdrawals and recalls. Who is the guidance for and what does it cover?

The FSA’s draft guidance goes through the legal requirements for dealing with food safety withdrawals and recalls. These occur when unsafe food has been identified and needs to be removed from the supply chain to protect consumers. A withdrawal occurs before the food has reached consumers; a recall is needed when the food has been made available to the public, so it includes advice on how to return or dispose of it.

The FSA, working with a multi-stakeholder group, has drafted the guidance in response to research carried out in 2017 into the systems that were in place for dealing with such incidents in the UK. This highlighted the need for some improvements; there have been no legal or policy changes.

The guidance applies to “food business operators” (FBOs), which include any food businesses in the supply chain: processors, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, brokers, agents, importers, exporters, retailers (including caterers/out of home businesses) and any charity organisations that provide food.

The guidance aims to clarify and standardise the procedures that identify and remove unsafe food from the market. As well as explaining the legal roles and responsibilities, it gives advice on best practice to help FBOs comply with the relevant requirements.

It includes advice on:

  • traceability systems
  • making a decision to withdraw or recall food
  • the roles and responsibilities of those involved
  • how to plan for and manage a food safety withdrawal or recall; and
  • how to effectively inform consumers of a food recall, including a sample notice.

The consultation can be found on the FSA’s website: “Guidance on food traceability, withdrawals and recalls within the UK food industry”. Responses are invited from FBOs by 4 February.

The FSA’s new draft guidance clarifies how food businesses should respond to food safety recalls and withdrawals. The FSA aims to put the guidance in place before the UK leaves the EU, so there is a short deadline for responding: 4 February.

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