We’re aiming for a sustainable approach to food safety regulation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to encourage businesses to change behaviours which will benefit consumers. Between now and 2020, we plan to implement and deliver a new regulatory model for food. As part of this we will publish key documents, studies, pilot research and data research in support of the Regulating our Future (ROF) programme.
Adapting the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for a modernised regulatory system
We commissioned this independently conducted research to explore consumer and business attitudes and behaviour in relation to the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. We know that some of the changes we are making through the Regulating our Future Programme will have an impact on the scheme, such as the introduction of Primary Authority national inspection strategies, so we also wanted to get their views on how we can manage this and evolve the scheme so that it can continue to be successful.
The findings highlight that both consumer and business views on using a wider range of evidence to inform food hygiene ratings were mixed and that these views generally related to the level of trust in ‘big business’. These findings are helping inform the development of policy options and we will be engaging with our stakeholders on these over the coming months.
Food in the Platform Economy
Understanding and Governing Emerging Online Marketplace for Food: The FSA partnered with LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation to produce a qualitative social science research project exploring what measures are in place to ensure that food sold via digital marketplace platforms is safe and what it says it is and how state regulators might improve compliance with food law in this sector.
Digital Food Marketplaces for Unconventional Food Entrepreneurs: Digital marketplaces enabling consumers to purchase food from a variety of different sellers have proliferated rapidly in recent years. These platforms differ from conventional retailers in that they typically neither select nor take legal ownership of the food products offered for sale on their websites. This project, by PHD internship at FSA sponsored by UKRC, used a qualitative research approach involving in-depth interviews to explore the business practices of small vendors trading on two distinct digital food marketplaces, namely EatWith, a platform for home cooks selling food experiences, such as supper clubs, and Feast-It, a platform to book street food vendors.
Changing food regulation: what we’ve done, where we go next
This paper summarises what difference the delivery of the Regulating Our Future programme will make to consumers, local authorities, other food law enforcement bodies, and businesses. We describe the progress made on delivering National Inspection Strategies and Enhanced Registration; how our work on regulating private assurance is progressing; the approach we are taking to designing a sustainable funding model for the new regime; and our renewed efforts to make it mandatory to display Food Hygiene Ratings at food premises in England.
Why food regulation needs to change and how we are going to do it
In 2017, we published our plans to change food regulation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Read our proposals to transform the way food businesses are regulated.
Communicating for Compliance trial
Ipsos MORI was commissioned by us and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to run a randomised control trial. Its purpose was to establish the effect of re-designed information regarding food safety and the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) sent by local authorities to a randomly selected intervention group of newly registered food businesses. We wanted to investigate whether changes to local authority correspondence could improve the food hygiene rating of businesses on their first local authority inspection.
The trial found no effect i.e those in the intervention group did not have a significantly higher food hygiene rating than those in the control group. Nevertheless, the report sets out some practical considerations for optimising future local authority communications, drawing on evidence from businesses and wider literature.
KitchenLogs and Harrow council feasibility study
We undertook a feasibility study with KitchenLogs and Harrow council to discover if the use of a digital food safety management system can help increase the food hygiene ratings score and improve food hygiene and food standards. The study also looked at the data sharing between the digital system and the local authority.
Read our report which highlights the results from the study:
Register a food business service assessment
To ensure the new register a food business digital service met Government service design standards, we undertook an assessment of the alpha phase of the development. This report, delivered by peers from other government departments, demonstrates how the service met the required standards and next steps required for the development to progress into the beta phase.
The results from the assessment will help us further develop the digitally enabled service for food business registration.
Pathways to Registration
This research and report provides an evidence base which will help us (and the ROF programme specifically) to:
- Establish the performance of the current food business registration and approval system;
- Enable the FSA to identify the level and type of support required for new businesses and help inform the development of tools to aid business compliance with food law and protect consumers.
Telemetry Feasibility study
We undertook a Feasibility Study to demonstrate the value of using real time digital sensors to automatically monitor the temperature of key kitchen equipment and store live data. The study also looked at how real time data can be accessed and used to check and demonstrate compliance in a manner that is more efficient than paper-based systems.
Read our report which highlights the results from the study here.
CheckIt Feasibility study
New digital technology used by food businesses to manage hygiene practices could also be used to help environmental health officers (EHO) monitor food businesses in real time.
This could help them to detect food safety problems sooner and improve protection for the public. Read our study which highlights the results from a trial of this new approach.
Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum speech
We have published a speech given by our Chair Heather Hancock to the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum on 24 April 2018. The Chair discussed the future of food regulation in the UK after EU Exit. Her speech covered four key areas: why food regulation matters after we leave the EU; what the new regulatory regime will mean in practice; how food will be regulated; and who will shoulder the responsibilities.
Pilot Project for the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety
We published the findings of a pilot study which identifies the potential for the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global Standards assurance scheme to play a part in regulated private assurance - one of the key parts of the ROF model.
Despite starting before the ROF model was agreed, the pilot study moved away from its original approach in order to focus on how the BRC Global Standard could support the key ROF principles. This includes using all available information sources and recognising businesses to do the right thing.
Regulated private assurance is a key component of the ROF assurance framework. Assurance schemes, such as the BRC Global Standard, are just one of many data sources being considered under the model.
Primary Authority National Inspection Strategy -Feasibility study
We published a ROF feasibility study which looks at how the Primary Authority scheme, in particular National Inspection Strategies, can play a role in the future regulation of food businesses.
The results from the study will help us in developing a new standard for primary authorities wishing to establish national inspection strategies for food.
Audit data and food safety requirements
We published the findings from two projects which looked at whether audit data collected by food businesses could be used by local authorities to check food hygiene standards and decide ratings.
From September to December 2016, we worked with Tesco, Mitchells & Butlers, their audit providers and local authorities. We wanted to test the companies’ assurance data against the food safety requirements which local authorities use to check food businesses are compliant.
Cost of Food Standards Agency regulation and Food Law to the UK food industry
As part of our work to modernise the food regulatory regime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland we must consider the costs of operating the current system – the baseline cost - and the financial impact of any potential changes.
We commissioned a study to develop a better understanding of the financial and time-related costs for food businesses who comply with food law. We also wanted to understand the costs associated with the regulatory system.
The analysis and estimates were collected through a survey and interviews. The findings will help inform our baseline estimates of the costs of regulation as a whole.
Taunton Dean Borough Council, West Somerset Council and Scoresafe - Feasibility study
We’ve published a ROF feasibility study which looks at the process of registering food businesses with the use of digital technology. The study aimed to take on board fresh ideas around food business registration, understand best practice and lessons learned in this area, and to enable the development of the best possible regulatory model for food.
The results from the study will help us further develop the digitally enabled service for food business registration.
Review of licensing schemes
We undertook this review to look at how licensing schemes work in general, we reviewed seven licensing schemes that were/or are currently implemented/trialled in the UK. We wanted to gain a better understanding of how licensing schemes operate, review the types of enforcement for non-compliance with respect to their effectiveness and review the strengths and weaknesses of licensing schemes.
We are using the insight from this review to inform future recommendations about a potential food business licensing scheme - ‘Permit to trade’.
Making food businesses more compliant
This literature review was carried out to help understand how businesses behave, and how research of this kind can help to improve food business compliance with food law.
This research will help inform the discussion about shifting business behaviours in favour of compliance. It will also help us put together more tailored guidance for new businesses via the Register a Food Business system.