Service standards

Whether you are a consumer or business, the Food Standards Agency is committed to providing you with a helpful, courteous and efficient service. Our standards set out the level of service you can expect from us.

Contacting us

If you don’t already have a contact, or are unsure who you need to speak to, you can contact our Helpline on 020 7276 8829 or email [email protected]

Contact details for our offices, by topic and out of normal office hours can be found via our Contact us page.

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General enquiries

If you contact us by letter, fax or email we will:

  • Try to answer the questions you ask or explain why we can't.
  • Reply as soon as possible, but in any event we will aim to send you a full reply within 20 working days of receiving your letter, fax or email. If we can't meet this target, we will let you know why and let you know when you will get a full reply.

If you contact us by telephone we will:

  • Aim to answer your call within 30 seconds.
  • Attempt to resolve your enquiry at first point of contact or explain why we can't. If we cannot, we will try and transfer you to a colleague who can deal with your enquiry. If we can’t transfer you we will try to give you the name and telephone number of someone who can help you.

In person

If you want to see us at our offices, we would be grateful if you could make an appointment. If you have an appointment with a named person, they will see you within 10 minutes of the appointment. If you have not made an appointment, someone will see you within 30 minutes of your arrival. If we can't meet these targets, we will give you a full explanation of any delay.

Letting you know who we are

We will identify ourselves by name in all correspondence, on the telephone and in face-to-face contact with you. Where appropriate, we will also wear name badges or provide name plates at meetings we organise.

Freedom of Information

Information on how to make a request can be found on our Freedom of Information page.

Working with businesses and others we regulate

The FSA is responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK. We work with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations. We have staff who work in UK meat plants, and who carry dairy hygiene inspections in England and Wales to check that the requirements of the regulations are being met. We are responsible for food safety legislation. Most food safety legislation originates from Europe and we negotiate on behalf of the UK in Europe. We also commission research related to food safety.

In all our dealings with us you can expect us to be efficient and professional. We want to help your businesses to be a success, and want you to feel able to come to us for advice when you need it.

Information and guidance for businesses can be found in the Business and industry section of this website. We also work with industry on the production of industry guides. A series of national guides has been produced by the food industry and provides guidance to good hygiene practice and the application of HACCP principles within the legislative framework. We recognise these industry guides.

We also produce a wide range of publications for the public and the food industry. Publications can be downloaded from our publications page.

When any change in policy is considered we consult those affected. Our Help Shape Our Polices section provides opportunities for consumers, food businesses, local authorities and anyone interested in the work of the FSA to comment. We also carry out formal written consultations.

Approach to checks on compliance

For businesses registered or approved by your local authority, the inspectors will be enforcement officers from your local authority (or district council in Northern Ireland). Read the ‘Food law inspections and your business’ page for more information.

For businesses that require approval by the FSA, inspections will be carried out by FSA staff. Information on what can be expected can be found in the Meat Industry Guide (MIG). The MIG aims to assist UK meat plant operators whose premises require approval and veterinary control under the European Union Food Hygiene Regulations

Responding to non-compliance

If you are inspected by your local authority the Food Law Code of Practice and Feed Law Code of Practice set out the way local authorities should apply food law and animal feed law, and how they should work with food businesses to deal with non-compliance using a hierarchy of enforcement starting with advice and guidance.

For businesses inspected by the FSA, such as approved meat premises (slaughterhouses, cutting premises, farmed and wild game facilities and co-located minced meat and meat products premises) and dairies when we require you to take action we will:

  • Use our hierarchy of enforcement starting with advice and guidance as set out in the Manual for Official Controls
  • Explain the nature of the non-compliance, and discuss with you what is required to achieve compliance.
  • Clearly explain any advice, actions required or decisions we have taken and agree a timescale for action to be taken.
  • Provide details in writing on how to appeal against any advice or action required, including any statutory rights.

The Manual for Official Controls, which can be found via a link towards the end of this page, provides details of the tasks, responsibilities and duties FSA staff and veterinary contractors undertake in approved establishments, including dairy premises.

Fees and charges

Some of the FSA services in approved meat plants are charged to food business operators (FBOs). The FSA guide on Charges for Official Controls in Meat Premises, which can be found via the link towards the end of this page, aims to assist FBOs in understanding the basis on which fees and charges are calculated.

The guide also contains information on how to complain about an invoice.

Complaints and appeals

We are always willing to discuss with you the reasons why we have acted in a particular way.

To make a complaint about the FSA, information can be found via the 'Complaints and comments' link below.

Information about how to appeal against a decision made by your local authority can be found via the 'How to make an appeal' link below.

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