The EU Food Hygiene Regulations, in force since 1 January 2006, extended the 'farm to fork' approach to food safety legislation and apply to food businesses throughout the supply chain. This now includes farmers and growers, in many cases for the first time.
The UK is obliged to undertake inspections to ensure that food hygiene legislation is being complied with. Other than in dairy and egg hygiene, where existing enforcement arrangements continue, a common approach to inspections has been adopted across the UK.. In Scotland a combination of local authorities and the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGPRID) will undertake the inspections.
Where they are not subject to more specific hygiene requirements (that is, for milk and egg production), farmers and growers need to follow good hygiene practice and manage their operations in a way that controls food safety problems (or 'hazards'.) They must continue to comply with other legislation, for example on veterinary medicines and pesticides. Primary producers are not required to have a HACCP system.
Primary producers must also be registered with the competent authority. The registration burden has been reduced by utilising existing forms of farm registration (e.g. the records of SGPRID).
Inspection frequencies will be risk based and make full use of available evidence from a variety of sources. Membership of a recognised farm assurance scheme will be used as positive evidence, resulting in less frequent inspections. Recognised schemes are considered to meet the requirements of the legislation in a clear and credible way; for example, scheme members will already undergo regular inspections by the certifying body used by the scheme. Records, including medicine and feed records, will be inspected. Normally there will not be any requirements for stock inspections during these visits.
The Agency recognises that the seasonal nature of primary production and the fact that farmers are not always at the farm premises means prior notification of inspections is preferable. This approach has been encouraged in the training to enforcers.
Membership of, and performance as part of, a recognised farm assurance scheme will provide relevant evidence where the conditions of the scheme address the requirements of the legislation in a credible and transparent way.
The following assurance schemes have been evaluated against the requirements of the hygiene legislation and are currently considered to meet those requirements:
- Assured British Meat (ABM )
- Assured British Pigs (ABP)
- Assured Chicken Production (ACP)
- Assured Combinable Crops Scheme (ACCS)
- Assured Produce (AP)
- Genesis Quality Assurance (GQA)
- Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)
- Farm Assured Welsh Livestock (FAWL)
- Northern Ireland Beef/Lamb Farm Quality Assured Scheme (NIBLFQAS)
- Scottish Quality Cereals (SQC) has also been assessed as meeting the requirements of the legislation and an information exchange mechanism developed with the FSA Scotland.
The hygiene regulations apply to farms across all European Union Member States. Corresponding and consistent enforcement is also required of Member States. Primary produce imported into the EU from third countries must also meet EU hygiene rules. The EC Feed Hygiene Regulation (183/2005) aims at ensuring that EC controls on safety are strengthened and applied throughout the animal feed chain. It applies to virtually all feed businesses that make, use or market animal feed, including most livestock farms and arable farms that grow or sell crops for feed businesses. The Feed Hygiene Regulation requires farmers to comply with general hygiene standards in relation to the feeds they produce or use.
Most farms will need to comply with the relevant requirement by 1 January 2008. However, farms that mix feeds containing additives (such as vitamins and trace elements) have been subject to the controls set out in the regulation since 1999.