FSA ‘name and shame’ policy delayed

A controversial Food Standards Agency (FSA) initiative to ‘name and shame’ meat processors on its website has been blocked by its board – for the time being.

Tim Smith, chief executive of the organisation, told board members yesterday he wanted to publish the details of operators that were non-compliant with its health and standards regulations for longer than a year on its website by May.

But the board has called for a paper on the topic to be presented at its next meeting in March – and one member of the board called for the FSA to seek legal advice on the matter.

Yesterday Smith revealed the agency had been making inroads on those plants that did not comply with health and safety regulations  – with the number dropping from 67 in October 2009 to 43 in 2010

He said: “Many have been working really hard to improve their standards. However, some are not raising their standards and remain on the list and that is unacceptable from a public health point of view.”

Smith added that the publication of those on the non-compliant ‘cause for concern’ list was part of the FSA’s ‘commitment to transparency’ and that it was thought that 12 months was a ‘sensible period’ for an operation to improve its standard.

But Professor Graeme Miller, board Member for Scotland and chair of Scottish Food Advisory Committee, said: “I have a problem with naming and shaming. I would want the board to be covered by legal advice.”

And Dr Henrietta Campbell, board member for Northern Ireland and chair of Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee, added: “It is important that any information that we release comes with a full explanation of what that information means.”

>> FSA accused of ‘spin’

>> Full cost farrago