Last updated on 30 June 2011
Improved risk-based dairy inspections
From 1 July 2011, the Agency will be changing the frequency of official hygiene inspections on dairy farms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to make the system more proportionate to the food safety risks.
The changes will lead to a reduction in official inspections in England and Wales from more than 11,000 to about 3,000 per year. In Northern Ireland there will be a reduction from 4,500 to 3,200 inspections per year. This will reduce the burden on the competent authorities that carry out the inspections, lower the cost to taxpayers, and provide a cost equivalent of £150,000 per year in saved time for dairy farmers.
Following a period of consultation, the key features of the amended system are:
- dairy farms supplying milk for pasteurisation will receive a routine official inspection every two years
- members of the Red Tractor Assured Dairy Farm scheme will benefit from reduced inspections and will receive an official inspection every 10 years
- to ensure consumers are protected, the inspection frequency for all farms that produce unpasteurised drinking milk will stay at six months, and those that produce milk for unpasteurised dairy products will be inspected every two years
To further protect consumers, the new system will include measures to identify any businesses that are not complying fully with the law, and these farms will be inspected more frequently. This ensures that resources are focused on dairy farms that most need improvement or those that carry out the highest-risk activities.
The Agency’s Chief Executive Tim Smith said: 'The changes we are introducing will continue to ensure that consumers are protected while reducing the cost to the taxpayer of dairy inspections. The dairy industry has developed systems to ensure the safety of its products and it is only right that we look at ways of making inspections more proportionate to the risks.'
In Northern Ireland, the new inspection system will be phased in over two years. In Scotland, the system is not changing and dairy hygiene inspections will continue to occur every two years. The FSA is currently considering extending recognition of Red Tractor Assured Dairy Farm membership to Scotland, which would result in inspections every 10 years for members.