Assurance probe will take months

16 November 2001

Assurance probe will take months

A FOOD Standards Agency investigation into farm assurance schemes is likely to take months rather than weeks, officials have warned.

The inquiry was unveiled as agency chairman, John Krebs, said the industry was hyping up assurance schemes rather than telling the truth about food labelling. The issue had emerged as one of significant concern in the agencys consumer research, he added.

Although a timetable has yet to be set, investigations will get under way as soon as possible, an agency spokeswoman told farmers weekly. Surveys had revealed low recognition and understanding by consumers and confusion over the uses of logos and their meanings.

Chris Barnes, chairman of Assured Food Standards, which runs the British Farm Standards "little red tractor logo", said the investigation was a chance to clear up any confusion. More than 450 inspectors overseen by an independent group of inspectors check standards on farms, he added.

"We look forward to this opportunity to demonstrate further the food safety, animal welfare and environmental benefits being produced by these standards," he said. "We believe there is a high level of transparency in the way the little red tractor operates." &#42

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