Last reviewed 6 July 2022

In their latest annual review of food standards across the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) highlight that the food system has faced two years of major upheaval following the UK’s departure from the EU, the significant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently, the disruption caused by the war in Ukraine.

Available here, the 127-page report describes the key changes in food standards from 2019 to 2021.

It focuses particularly on food and feed safety (including allergen management) and argues that overall food safety standards have largely been maintained during 2021. However, the report warns this is a cautious conclusion.

The pandemic disrupted regular inspections, sampling and audits across the food system and also reduced the amount of data available when assessing business compliance against food law requirements. It also changed patterns of consumer behaviour.

While food safety standards have largely been maintained, both the FSA and FSS recognise that there are significant risks ahead.

The report highlights two particular areas of concern. First there has been a fall in the level of local authority inspections of food businesses. Second, to enhance levels of assurance on higher-risk EU food such as meat, dairy and eggs and food and feed that has come to the UK via the EU, it is seen as essential that improved controls are put in place to the timescale that the UK Government has set out (by the end of 2023).

“The longer the UK operates without assurance that products from the EU meet our high food and feed safety standards, the less confident we can be that we can effectively identify potential safety incidents,” FSA Chairwoman, Professor Susan Jebb, said.