Summary of discussions at FSA Board meeting 19 September 2018

At its quarterly meeting today, the Food Standards Agency Board discussions included: further elements of the regulatory reform programme (Regulating Our Future or ROF); progress on food and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including in the dairy sector; its annual report on animal welfare; and changes to its governance arrangements in consequence of EU Exit.
19 September 2018

The Board agreed the proposal to establish standards to apply to primary authority national inspection strategies (NIS); three would be required, applying to the FSA, to the local authority and to the national inspection strategy itself. They agreed that these would allow the potential of NIS to be fully realised, and looked forward to receiving further advice on the detail of the proposed standards. The Board recognised the different circumstances in England, Northern Ireland and Wales for using the primary authority mechanism, and that a nationally tailored solution would be needed; for example, in Wales, a decision to create a primary authority relationship or a NIS would be for the Welsh Government and Welsh local authorities. The Board discussed the next steps for regulated private assurance, which included understanding which of the assurance schemes covered regulatory compliance, the completeness of that coverage, and the need for the FSA to be confident in the quality of the scheme, as well as needing assurance about the individuals and the organisations delivering the scheme, to reliably use that data in the new regulatory model.

The Board received its annual update on progress made in delivering the Deter, Prevent, Detect, Enforce welfare agenda for slaughterhouses in England and Wales. The Board welcomed the continuing progress made in delivering the welfare agenda in abattoirs, and improvements in data analysis. They endorsed the collaborative work to facilitate implementation of the Government’s new legislation on CCTV in slaughterhouses. The Board recognised that animal welfare policy is a matter for Defra and Welsh Government, and it was important not to inadvertently take on responsibility in areas that did not rest with the FSA. In that regard, the FSA was playing a good collaborative role in making data, insight and systems available to help other agencies in central and local government address issues. The Board suggested that this collaborative approach could be extended by working to help the Animal Health and Welfare Board. While they welcomed the increase in financial contributions from Defra and the Welsh Government towards this work, the Board stressed that this did not cover the costs of the services required as part of the current service level agreement. It was unsustainable for the FSA to continue to subsidise this service delivery for Defra and the Welsh Government, and using FSA resources in this way compromised the ability to invest in other critical FSA priorities.

Following the FSA Science update in December 2017, the Board was given an update on the agency’s programme of research and surveillance on AMR, and Prof David McDowell presented the recommendations of the Advisory Committee of the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) Task and Finish Group. In addition, Gwyn Roberts, Chairman of RUMA, provided a briefing on the AMR progress being made by the dairy sector. Both reports brought out the importance of improving the baseline data about AMR and antibiotic use, of collaboration across sectors and departments to have the greatest impact, the innovative research and development underway, and the very positive progress being made in the UK showing global leadership on this critical issue.

A series of adjustments to the governance arrangements at the FSA, at the Board and Committee level, and in relation to risk analysis, were discussed and agreed by the Board. These were the essential foundations for a complete, operational regulatory regime, with appropriate governance, assurance and accountability, once the FSA was operating outside the institutions of the EU. 

The papers discussed are available on our website and a video on demand recording of the meeting will be available on the FSA’s website on Friday 21 September.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the FSA Board will be on 5 December 2018 in London.

You can register to attend in person or online. As places may be limited, please wait until you receive an official confirmation of your registration before making arrangements to attend. If you need help registering, or have any queries, please contact tel: 020 8481 3302.