Food safety

'Speedier fines' for law-breaking food businesses

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Local authorities Local government Law Food standards agency

Food law prosecution database is six months old
Food law prosecution database is six months old
Law-breaking food businesses, including pubs, could expect speedier fines and prosecutions as a result of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) food law prosecution database and a strategy to improve the organisation’s digital technology.

The database, which was set up six months ago to gather information on prosecutions against food businesses by local authorities, was developed by the FSA to simplify legal proceedings, Rod Ainsworth, director of regulatory and legal strategy at the FSA said.

Thousands of pieces of data about prosecutions had already been gathered in a bid to help local authorities understand the outcome of a prosecution, Ainsworth told the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s annual conference today (20 October).

‘Food law prosecution’

“It struck me as odd when I started at the FSA that no local authority could look at what the outcome of a food law prosecution could be,” he added.

“We have got a database now, so the local authorities can look at what could happen [following a prosecution]. This is a support function [for local authorities] and it’s there to help them be more consistent.”

However, the database was set up as a one-year experiment and Ainsworth was unsure whether it would continue afterwards, he admitted.

To become even more efficient in enforcing food laws, the FSA’s legal strategy arm would aim to implement better and more technologically advanced systems, Ainsworth added.

Over the next five years and beyond, as the organisation faced increasing government budget cuts, it would have to take better advantage of digital technology.

Increase budget cuts

“Most of our systems when they were set up were ‘best of their breed’, but it’s starting to show now.”

Systems used by the FSA to gather samples and other data were outdated and the organisation planned to bring them together under one platform in a bid to make processes quicker and prevent duplication when filling out paperwork.

“We need to try to ensure that we can make the best use of our information and that what we do with future systems is flexible – we can no-longer build obsolescence into our organisation.”

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