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The food regulatory system

The Food Standards Agency operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has different policy responsibilities within these countries.
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The food system is complex and its regulation involves multiple bodies.

The Food Standards Agency operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has different policy responsibilities within these countries.

Food Standards Scotland is the non-ministerial government department of the Scottish Government responsible for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labelling, feed official controls and meat inspection in Scotland. 

Our section on four-country working explains how the food policy areas are split across the UK.

A dairy inspector with milking equipment

Who enforces food controls?

FSA delivery

Meat Hygiene Inspectors and Official Veterinarians conduct hygiene, document and physical checks and take samples from approved producers of meat (including abattoirs and cutting plants). 

Qualified veterinarians conduct checks on animal products and deliver animal welfare checks*. 

*DAERA is responsible for the meat operations delivery on behalf of the FSA in Northern Ireland.

Local authority delivery

Food Safety Officers conduct food safety and hygiene official controls. They inspect premises to check that food is stored  and prepared safely.  

Food Standards Officers check that food meets safety, composition and nutrition labelling standards (for example, labelling of allergens, use-by dates, nutritional and compositional information). 

Imported food delivery 

Port Health Officers conduct risk-based document checks, identity checks, physical checks, and take samples of food imports.  

Official Veterinarians and Official Fish Inspectors conduct checks on  animal products. 

Three people looking at a clipboard on a farm

Food and feed businesses

Under UK food and animal feed regulations, it is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure that all food and feed placed on the market is safe, that its quality is what consumers would expect and that it is not labelled in a false or misleading way.

We are directly responsible for controls in approved producers of fresh meat (including abattoirs and cutting plants), wine and on-farm dairy establishments. FSA and local authorities together deliver shellfish official controls. 

Food businesses covered by local authorities include food producers, food processors, catering establishments, takeaway and food delivery, retailers and approved dairy, meat and fish establishments. FSA and local authorities together deliver shellfish official controls. 

Local and port health authorities in England, local authorities and APHA in Wales, and local authorities and DAERA in NI are responsible for imported food controls. Feed controls are the responsibility of local authorities in England and Wales, and DAERA in NI.

Consumers

Consumers are responsible for the safe preparation and storage of food in their home and for checking labelling to ensure that food is suitable for them to eat.

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