Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president Barclay Bell and chief executive Wesley Aston recently attended a major Food Standards Agency event.
This examined how FSA will deliver its 2015-2020 ‘Food We Can Trust’ strategy. The event brought together consumers, businesses, regulators and other key organisations, such as the UFU, from across the UK.
Mr Bell said this was an ideal opportunity to push the case for fresh thinking on official controls and inspections. “More recognition must be given to existing independently accredited industry schemes, which are generally at higher levels than statutory requirements. Duplication must be avoided and unnecessary additional costs stripped out,” he said.
Mr Bell added that Dr Steve Hathaway, Director of the Science & Risk Assessment Branch of New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries, had outlined the approach there, which already does this.
“From the New Zealand approach we can learn valuable lessons,” said Mr Bell.
Also discussed was the importance of food authenticity and transparent labelling. “This holds out the prospect of real progress on better regulation implementation and enforcement, while still maintaining the very high standards our agri-food industry delivers,” said Mr Bell.