Food Assurance Schemes: Role of the FSA and Defra
Friday 10 October 2008
Food assurance schemes are voluntary arrangements through which consumers and businesses along the food chain are provided with assurance that food has been produced to certain standards. The Agency monitors whether consumer interests are represented in food assurance schemes.
In addition, the Agency has oversight of the food and feed safety implications of such schemes, such as their use as part of a risk-based approach to reduce hygiene inspection frequency. The Agency also has close contacts with assurance schemes because of their potential to promote farm practices that contribute to Agency policies such as pesticide residue minimisation.
The Agency published, in April 2008, a report about the review into the extent to which food assurance schemes have adopted the Agency's 2003 guidance on best practice to protect consumer interests. This contains recommendations as to further action.
Defra has no specific policy responsibility for Food Assurance Schemes, but encourages membership by farmers to build consumer confidence in food sold in the UK, and because reaching the required standards may offer market opportunities for farm produce.