LAs 'failing to monitor food labelling standards'

12th February 2014 - Fine Cut

Keeping labels up to date and in line with the latest regulations is of the utmost importance, especially in industries that are regulated by tough legislation that could well be revised on a regular basis.

With this in mind, the food sector is one of the first industries to come to the fore. Not only is packaging regulated to include certain nutritional information and notes about ingredients, but restauranteering professionals are also bound by a strict code of marking all produce that is kept behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, a recent survey by Which? revealed that across the UK, there could be enormous discrepancies in the levels of food standards, with work to check the accuracy of food labels cited as one area that is worthy of some attention. 

According to research, certain local authorities (LAs) in particular are failing to enforce national food standards by ensuring that businesses within their areas are complying with the hygiene standards, as laid down by law.

Using the 2012/13 Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System hygiene database compiled by the Food Standards Agency, Which? noted that testing for labelling and presentation had fallen by a considerable 16.2 per cent from the previous year. Meanwhile, overall food testing had deteriorated by 6.8 per cent.

Of the 395 LAs, Bexley in London was found to be the poorest-performing. Five other councils in the capital also appeared in the top - or bottom - ten for maintenance of food standards. Cherwell District Council in North Oxfordshire, meanwhile, was awarded a gold star, as the best-performing LA.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, commented: "No one wants another horsemeat fiasco, so it is very worrying that local authority food checks are in decline.  

"We want to see a more strategic approach to food law enforcement that makes the best use of limited resources and responds effectively to the huge challenges facing the food supply chain."

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