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Mitchells & Butlers in food regulation reform trial

18 October 2016 by
Mitchells & Butlers in food regulation reform trial

Bar, restaurant and pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is taking part in a pilot scheme to help the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reform food regulations in the UK.

Under the three-month trial M&B will be "exploring opportunities to pilot the use of data in assurance models" an FSA spokesman said.

M&B representing the hospitality sector and Tesco representing food retailers are taking part in the technology-based trial, which will run from now until the end of the year.

The initiative involves making use of the companies' own data and auditing systems to monitor and maintain supply chain safety. Its aim is to reduce red tape and enable the FSA to concentrate on significant threats to public health, such as food fraud.

"We are seeing rapid technological change and new opportunities to regulate businesses in a way that improves consumer protection and minimises red tape and bureaucracy for businesses," the FSA spokesman said. "The safety and standards system in place today hasn't kept pace with the sector we oversee. It hasn't kept pace with technology; globalisation; the changing economics of food business. It hasn't kept pace with changes in the national diet, the shift towards eating out and food on the go.

"The present inspection model includes sending local authority inspectors to look at what businesses are doing in relation to food standards and hygiene," he continued. "We believe there are other options also worth exploring as a means of ensuring consumer protection. We will move away from a one size fits all approach, to tailored and proportionate regulation that reflects relative risk, reinforces accountability, and delivers more for public health."

The news, which comes four years after Tesco was discovered to have been selling horse meat in its "beef burgers", has met with criticism in national newspapers. The Daily Telegraph said that fears are mounting that the next horse meat scandal is just around the corner and quoted experts describing the move as "the most scandalous government decision on food safety in recent history".

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