Farm-based firms threatened by EU food safety rules
ALMOST all farm-based food processing and retail businesses could be forced to close in 2004 because they do not meet EU requirements on food safety.
Eunice Taylor, of Salford University, told delegates at the Regional Food Business Conference at Harper Adams, Shropshire, that the vast majority of small food businesses – including farm shops – had failed to meet EU regulations designed to enhance food safety.
The rules concern Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, which should protect consumers from illness caused by poor handling of foodstuffs.
"The EU Commission expects to enforce the regulation in 2004, but UK industry is not prepared for it. Are we going to close down all the food businesses?" asked Prof Taylor.
HACCP requires businesses to identify and monitor specific processes that can seriously jeopardise food safety. Although many operators believe the regulation is too complex, most cant quantify this.
Richard Harding, of the Food Standards Agency, added: "Many businesses complain, but when we sat down with them they often cannot put a strong argument together."
Karol Bailey, who owns a farm shop in Tabley, Cheshire, said she found HACCP "terribly complex" and the industry needed to provide some solutions and advice.
A pilot project conducted by Salford University to get businesses through HACCP saw 30 apply, but just three completed the task. *