Waitrose in talks to enforce local supplier accreditation

Producers supplying food to Waitrose could need local supplier accreditation under regulations being considered by the retailer.

Under the plans, which could be introduced in January, suppliers would be forced to pay £500 to gain Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA).

Products with a SALSA label, which will be needed for processed products such as sausages and cheese, will be proven to conform with food safety regulations.

Waitrose stocks a wide local range of products produced by small suppliers and currently relies on inspecting small producers itself.

The SALSA label would mean one national scheme to take the place of the many regional and local food accreditation schemes.

NFU food chain adviser Claire Smith said that while the scheme meant more paperwork, it was good for suppliers.

“Proper food safety accreditation is vital if the local-food brand is to expand. One dodgy sausage could destroy the reputation of ‘local’ farm products for good,” she said.Ms Smith said SALSA had been developed by the food industry for farmers and gave small producers access to mentors. They could also use the system to carry out a mock audit of their business if they needed it,

In contrast, getting safety accreditation through the British Retail Consortium, as bigger suppliers have to, can cost £1000, she added.

The SALSA scheme is supported by DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency and the NFU.

Ms Smith said that these regulations could boost SALSA into a big, recognisable brand.

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