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To Evaluate the Effectiveness of Independently Accredited Assurance Schemes and the Role they could Play in the Delivery of Official Controls at UK Entry Points

Institutions
ICF International
Start date
2012
End date
2013
Objective

Some evaluation of previous literature in this field were required to:

  • Establish how independently accredited certification schemes operate in the global supply chain and
  • Assess the role they may play in the better targeting of future inspection activity at UK points of entry

An Agency-commissioned pilot scheme which explored the performance of certified and non-certified consignments, and the role that third party assurance schemes could play in the food sector, was also considered. The results of the scheme will be particularly pertinent to this study.

EU or third country research and/or trials which have reviewed the suitability of accreditation schemes, in particular from an enforcement perspective, were of interest.

There was some liaison with UK and EU accreditation bodies such as United Kingdom Accreditation service, British Retail Consortium, Global Standard, Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global GAP) and the Soil Association, in relation to organic produce. This involved obtaining a greater understanding about how such schemes work and an evaluation of the types of assurance schemes that are currently available to, and used by UK Importers.

Liaison with Public Health Authorities and Local Authorities was necessary in order to best assess what and how information relating to assurance schemes could be presented.

There was poor participation in the FSA’s pilot scheme. The research needed to establish the reasons and identify how a future pilot scheme might be introduced in the UK.

The research involved contacting a representative number of businesses, ranging from multi-national supermarkets to small and medium-sized cash and carry/wholesale traders, which import fresh fruits and vegetables, using UK designated points of entry.

More information

Background: Fruits, vegetables and other perishable products make up a significant proportion of the imported food supply. Import controls need to be able to cope with the demand while maintaining a high level of food safety.

The European Commission has identified a list of ‘high risk’ products and/or countries as a known or emerging risk to public health. These products are subject to increased controls at the EU border including documentary, identity and physical checks. During the initial implementation of Commission Regulation 669/2009 (the legislation governing the ‘high risk list’), concerns were raised about the potential for delays whilst perishable consignments were detained at UK ports pending the results of sampling and analysis.

Some of these ‘high risk’ consignments were sourced from assured traders. An Agency pilot scheme was devised to assess whether the level of compliance with permitted levels of pesticide residues on products subject to increased import checks, was improved if farmers/suppliers were part of independent assurance schemes. The outcome of this voluntary monitoring exercise will be assessed as part of this project.

The role of independently accredited certification schemes operating in the global supply chain were also assessed as was the potential role they could play in the better targeting of risk based inspection activity with particular focus on the deployment of imported food checks at UK points of entry.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project source
View this project
Project number
FS204009
Categories
Food Defense and Integrity
Legislation and Regulations