Downturn in food hygiene inspections could increase pressure on manufacturers


Calls to address the decline in food hygiene inspections taking place in the UK could result in food manufacturers facing heightened pressures to provide greater accountability on the quality of their produce before it reaches the retailer and the consumer, warns InfinityQS.

Research obtained from a recent freedom of information request to the Food Standards Agency has revealed that the number of food hygiene inspections carried out by local authorities in the UK has fallen by approximately 15% since 2003. The figure is equal to almost 47,000 inspections and has led to concerns for public safety, with the decline attributed to increased budgetary pressures.

Industry practitioners, health lobbyists and consumer watchdogs have been quick to demand urgent action is taken to address this, which could result in huge implications for those parties operating within these supply chains, says InfinityQS.

Managing director for EMEA Martyn Gill states that for food manufacturers it will be critical for them to demonstrate correct measures are in place to ensure quality standards are met.

“Food safety needs to focus on prevention not reaction,” he notes. “It’s clear from the findings that the lack of inspections is being noted and we’ll likely see greater lobbying to address this. Ultimately, all it will need is one high profile incident to capture the media’s attention – combined then with the data already available regarding the lack of inspections, and the fallout will have serious ramifications. It’s integral those involved within the supply chain take actions now and review existing quality control measures and processes.

“For food manufacturers, supplier verifications, qualifications, certifications and third party accreditations are all integral in supporting a system of prevention, however, they need to be reinforced with effective process control technologies. Too often, organisations focus on ensuring that their processes are geared towards ‘after-the-fact, ignoring in process detection and prevention. In reality this could be waiting for an inspector to find a problem – given that inspections are now decreasing, it is likely to be the customer who finds fault, which would be catastrophic. For food manufacturers, it’s imperative they ensure effective process control technologies are in place within their production lines that can alert them to real time issues.”

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