The partnership would cover food standards issues (chemical safety, authenticity and labelling) only and not involve food hygiene sampling. Food hygiene sampling will be unaffected.
The current sampling programme system involves UK-wide stakeholder discussion to set the sampling priorities. We are keen to continue this irrespective of the geographic coverage of the NTS-FSA partnership. This will allow us to continue to draw on the best expertise available, while accepting that different parts of the UK may have different local priorities.
Food standards activity is of course delivered by both trading standards and environmental health professionals, depending on the type of authority. We fully understand that trading standards departments are more used to working with NTS, but the fact that NTS has successfully worked with environmental health departments on delivery of the feed programme is a good basis to believe that NTS will also work effectively with environmental health colleagues delivering food standards activity. We understand that NTS has already been working to ensure that this is the case.
The FSA fully supports NTS’s intention to work through regional groups to task down the different priorities and then for regions to agree themselves how many local authorities need to be involved in delivery of each priority. We agree that this should reduce the burden on local authorities, while ensuring appropriate engagement.
We hope this information is useful. We are still working out the detail to ensure that the NTS-FSA partnership will deliver the best possible outcome for consumers as well as benefits for all parties concerned. More information will be provided as it becomes available.