Are local authorities struggling to fulfil food safety duties?

Last week on the Shieldyourself news feed, we reported on the FSA’s latest budget cuts — questioning the impact this could have on independent food vendors. The FSA’s budget has been slashed by a record £6 million by the government, and evidence has since emerged suggesting that this could have a detrimental impact on the agency’s ability to upkeep and maintain current food hygiene and safety levels.

And the government’s ruthless cuts aren’t just impacting upon the FSA, either. In January 2016, Nina Purcell, director of the FSA in Wales published a board paper voicing her “growing concern” for cash-strapped local authorities, and their ability to enforce and fulfil their food safety duties.

In the paper, Purcell states: “The overall position is one of growing concern. At a local level there are a number of authorities which are struggling to undertake interventions of food businesses at the required frequencies.

“More generally, the number of food businesses and customer complaints continue to rise, while local authority staff resources, intervention and sampling levels continue to fall.

“We are also acutely aware that local authority resources, particularly in England, will face further significant reductions over the next few years.”

According to Purcell’s paper, food standards interventions have fallen by 6.8% over the past five years — indicating that some local authorities are failing to maintain the adequate food safety standards as enforced by the FSA.

Not only that, but the number of staff currently employed in a food law enforcement role has reportedly fallen by 17%; a steep downhill trend, and one that could provide the reason why consumer complaints have risen by 9.3% in the past five years.

Though based on a targeted sample (according to Purcell), these figures do suggest that local authorities are struggling to fulfil certain food safety responsibilities as a result of the FSA’s budget cuts. Local councils rely on funding from the FSA to properly enforce hygiene standards, but given the FSA has been forced to revise its expenditure, it’s clear why some local constituencies would struggle to maintain food safety standards.

Local authorities normally spend FSA funding on employing food safety inspectors, as well as resources for individual food vendors and businesses. The FSA’s cuts mean local authorities are now limited to what they can spend their monetary resources on, with potentially damaging implications for businesses.

At Shieldyourself we specialise in helping food businesses achieve full food safety and hygiene compliance, so your business can always operate within the limits of the law. To find out more about what we can offer you, or to receive a personal quote for any of our services, visit the Shieldyourself website or call us on 020 3733 7552.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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Mark Flanagan

Blogs, Food Safety, Health & Safety

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