An enhanced system of registration for food businesses is the fundamental change at the heart of the Food Standards Agency’s plans to transform food regulation – ‘fundamental’ because under the current system, the FSA doesn’t know how many food businesses actually exist or who is operating them.

This inability to draw a complete picture – whether in a food incident or crisis or just to make the best decisions – is the major weakness in the current model, where vital data is scattered among individual local authorities.

18 months of debate and discussion with stakeholders has been devoted to the reform of the regulatory systems for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Where applicable, outcomes are being harmonised with those of Food Standards Scotland.

The reforms have been given extra momentum as the UK leaves the EU, leading to adjustments in patterns of food production, trade and consumption and further emphasising the need for regulatory reform to keep pace with changes in the global food economy.

The changes that FSA wants to make in order to build a ‘risk-based, proportionate, robust and resilient’ system are identified and explained in ‘Regulating our future: Why food regulation needs to change and how we are going to do it’.

In addition to the reformed regulatory system, chief among the changes are

  • segmenting businesses in a better way, using a range of risk indicators based upon information gathered from the enhanced registration, among other sources
  • the introduction of more options for how businesses prove they are doing the right thing so that those with a good history of compliance will face a lower regulatory burden
  • a commitment to ensure the FCA’s hygiene rating scheme is sustainable and that it becomes mandatory to display evidence of compliance in England, as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland

‘FSA Chairman publishes plans to change food regulation’ is a YouTube video introducing the Plan.