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FSA publishes simplification plan

UK - The Food Standards Agency recently published its Simplification Plan, a wide-ranging strategy designed to cut business red tape, reduce the burden on enforcement officers, and improve levels of consumer protection.

The plan draws together a number of initiatives that the Agency has in hand for reducing the burden of the regulations for which it is responsible. The Agency has calculated that, taken together, all these measures will save business and the public sector some £195 million per annum, without damaging consumer protection.

Most of the savings come from a cattle testing system for BSE, which eases the administrative burden on livestock farmers. Farmers' revenue should also increase, as the return from the sale of cattle from human consumption is greater than that which farmers received through the compensation scheme.

Other initiatives include the deregulation of butchers’ licensing and GRAIL, a database system developed with some of the UK’s Port Health Authorities. The latter gives each authority rapid access to the relevant legislation relating to food imports.

The Agency believes that levels of consumer protection will increase, because when businesses find it easier to obey the law then more will comply. Enforcement officers will benefit too, because they will spend less time on paperwork, and be freed up to talk to businesses, again boosting compliance.

The Government is determined to reduce the amount of red tape that it imposes on business and boost competitiveness, through its ‘better regulation’ policies. The Agency decided to participate in this process, because reducing bureaucracy offers consumers improved protection.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the FSA, said: ‘We are firmly committed to better regulation. Simplifying regulation makes compliance easier and leads to better public protection.’

Philip Clarke, Head of Better Regulation at the Agency, added: ‘Simplification is a three-pronged strategy touching on all stakeholders: businesses, consumers and local authorities. Fully implemented it will make a lasting difference, benefiting all.’

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