Regulators must visit more plants, says FDF

The director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has urged policy makers and regulators to get out from behind their desks and see what it is really like to work in the food industry.

Speaking at the New Regulatory Reform Agenda conference in London yesterday (18 September), Melanie Leech said: "I understand the time pressures facing those in government and its agencies - but if you don't understand business processes, and the issues facing them every day, how can you regulate intelligently?"

She added that the UK's largest manufacturing sector fully supports the government's commitment to better regulatory processes, but warned that the industry is suffering from 'consultation' overload from government.

"It is important that we have a say in the policy and regulatory framework that will impact on our businesses. But it does seem, sometimes, that consultation is an empty process for form's sake - rather than a meaningful dialogue between trusted partners working to achieve the same objectives," she said.

"So let's consult only when the results will be listened to - and genuinely help improve matters."

Leech said that the FDF is more than happy to play its part in developing the industry knowledge of those working for regulatory bodies - whether it is by organising high-level briefings for senior staff, facilitating factory visits or brokering industry secondments for executives - and welcomed the FSA's recent announcement that several placements with food companies have now been arranged.