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Processors Call on FSA to Cut its Own Costs

10 September 2010

UK - British meat processors have called on the Food Standards Agency to reduce its own operational costs and overheads before is imposes the recovery of the full cost of meat inspection on the industry.

The British Meat Processors Association, which is currently in discussion with the Food Standards Agency over its intention to implement full cost recovery for official meat controls, said that it accepts that the Government is committed to the principle of full cost recovery.

However, the BMPA said that despite having made some efficiency gains, the FSA remains a high cost monopoly public service provider of official controls.

"Full cost recovery should not, therefore, be imposed on the industry until the FSA has gone much further in reducing its operational and overhead costs, which include liabilities that should not be borne by industry," said the BMPA.

The BMPA has called for serious consideration to be given to an alternative model of delivery of official controls, including delivery by a private sector provider, leaving the FSA to focus on its principal role as a science-based food safety regulator.

The FSA has sent out a questionnaire seeking information - some of it commercially sensitive - from companies about the impact of full cost recovery.

However, the BMPA said that the questionnaire is flawed in several respects, and shows a limited understanding of the industry.

"We question how comprehensive and meaningful any information the FSA may receive is likely to be, and, in turn, have concerns about the FSA will use such information. The BMPA is, therefore, not encouraging member companies to complete the questionnaire, though it is for individual companies to decide whether or not to do so," the BMPA said.

The meat processors have called on the FSA and the EU authorities to press ahead with work to replace the existing rigid meat inspection system with a modern risk-based inspection system that more effectively address the real public health issues of the day, enhance the value of carcases, and allow greater scope for efficient and compliant FBOs to reduce the burden and cost of meat inspections, whilst continuing to ensure food safety.

Stephen Rossides, Director of the BMPA, said: “The industry is not being offered any meaningful choice here. If the FSA is intent on implementing full cost recovery from industry of official meat controls, this must be accompanied by cuts in the Agency’s operational and overhead costs in delivering inspections.

"If the FSA is not willing or able to get a grip on its own inflated costs, then we should be looking very seriously at a radical alternative approach to delivering official controls, including through the private sector.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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