FSA agrees discount reforms
Published:  24 September, 2014

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has answered calls for modernisation by agreeing to go ahead with discount reforms at its recent board meeting.

The FSA said reform proposals have been taken forward on a collaborative basis with industry, through the Steering Group on Meat Charging, which has developed a charging and discount system that aims to be fairer and more balanced, redistributing the discount pot to maximise winners and minimise losers. The new discount arrangements look to remove distortions in the market, promote efficiency, maintain current levels of compliance, support SMEs and avoid anti-competitiveness.

The reforms will create a number of discount bands, based on usage of FSA resources, operating in the same way as a progressive income tax. The Steering Group proposals will see the level of discount reducing with each band as more hours of FSA resource are used.

The recommendations agreed also include introducing a supplementary discount for slaughterhouses employing Plant Inspection Assistants (PIAs) to carry out official controls, the setting-up of a group to review wider issues, and the ceasing of discounts for cutting premises.

Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), said: “The proposal for changes to the current discredited discounts system is a modest step in the direction of badly-needed reform.

“We will consult our members on this and respond to the FSA. More important is the recommended phase 2 work – looking at wider issues, including full cost recovery, the delivery of meat inspections, and the treatment of indirect cost in the calculation of charges. BMPA members want to see  more radical changes to the system of meat inspection charges to reflect more accurately and fairly the direct on-the-ground costs of official controls in efficient plants, alongside the modernisation of official controls themselves.”