Reporting incidents should be a priority, says FSA

29/05/2009 - 00:00
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its third Annual Report of Incidents, highlighting the need for all food business operators and enforcement authorities to make reporting these incidents a top priority.

The Agency handled 1,298 investigations into food incidents in 2008, including the high profile contamination of dioxins in pork and melamine in milk. The report showed details of these incidents and what action was taken to protect consumers. The report gives a breakdown of all the major categories of incidents in 2008. These categories include: environmental contamination (fires spills and leaks); natural chemical contamination (mycotoxins, algal toxins and others); microbiological incidents; and on-farm incidents. As a part of the Agency's work to make it easier to report incidents, an enhanced online incident report form was rolled out to local authorities last year. The form makes it easier for local authorities as well as food and feed businesses to notify the Agency of product recalls or withdrawals. The Agency is also developing a programme of workshops for local authorities and industry to encourage them to use the Agency and its systems to help deal with any problems. The Agency regularly conducts internal reviews to learn lessons from the handling of past incidents. In 2008 the Agency published an incident prevention strategy to help reduce the impact of food safety incidents. Collaborative work with industry will continue to identify key root causes for incidents and produce best practice guides to further target incident prevention work. Andrew Wadge, FSA chief scientist and director of food safety, said: "The Food Standards Agency plays a key role in protecting consumers' interests and maintaining food standards and safety. This report shows how we responded to incidents in 2008 to ensure that consumers were protected. "It stresses the importance of partnership working and encourages more comprehensive reporting. A robust and efficient incident handling system is in all our interests. By working together, we can secure further improvements to that system."

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