Government to set food businesses free from regulation
Plans to scrap or simplify more than 60 regulations, freeing the public and businesses from overly burdensome, bureaucratic or completely redundant rules have been announced by Tourism Minister John Penrose.
The proposals come from nearly 600 comments from the public and businesses as part of the Government’s rigorous Red Tape Challenge. They will see significant changes to legislation that will make life easier for businesses and promote personal freedoms.
Tourism Minister John Penrose, who has led the work on this part of the Red Tape Challenge, said:
“Rules and regulations grow like bindweed through industry and business, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Hospitality, Food and Drink sectors. Wading through bumph, filling in pointless and repetitive forms is a spirit-sapping experience which too often chokes off enterprise and endeavour. The Red Tape Challenge has shone a spotlight on all this, and I am delighted with our progress”.
As a result of the Red Tape Challenge the Government is committed to taking forward the following:
Food Labelling and Composition
- A significant rationalisation of existing food labelling and composition regulations (reducing the overall number from 34 to 17), meaning that businesses need to seek out and understand a smaller number of regulations.
A large number of individual regulations will be replaced by a single regulation to implement the new European Food Information Regulation (FIR) and Defra will also separately consolidate other regulations such as those dealing with bottled water, honey, condensed milk and casein.
- Additional steps to remove “gold plating” or other pieces of red tape in this area which are no longer necessary.
Examples include requirements around statutory minimum hardness for bottled water, the fortification of margarine, and changes to enable the Jam industry to better compete with its European competitors on sugar content.
- A formal public consultation on the continuing need for mandatory fortification of bread and flour.
- Additional non regulatory measures to simplify the regulatory framework for food businesses, in particular new entrant businesses and SMEs.
This package includes the development of a map of all labelling legislation relevant to a food business, a rationalisation of guidance and the better use of advice services.
- An equivalent rationalisation of food safety regulations, reducing the number of regulations from 34 to 11.
The scrapping, subject to further work to ensure there would be no detrimental impact on public health, of the following: – Arsenic in Food Regulations – Chloroform in Food Regulations – Ungraded Eggs (Hygiene) Regulations – Quick-frozen Foodstuffs (England) Regulations (will require agreement in Europe) – Authorised Officers (Meat Inspection) Regulations – Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (Radioactivity in Sheep) (England) Order
- The Food Standards Agency will also consult on whether or not the current rules regarding the registration of Child Minders and groups operating in Village Halls as food businesses are appropriate.
The consultation will gather views and evidence on these issues and look at whether it is possible to remove requirements without compromising public health.
- A redesign of the licensing forms so that the typical applicant will be asked to complete the absolute minimum.
This will be done alongside the forthcoming changes arising from the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, to limit costs to government and partners.
- Following consultation, and subject to the availability of a suitable legislative vehicle, decentralise Temporary Event Notice (TEN) forms and processes giving licensing authorities the power to accept TENs according to a locally-determined form or processes.
To ensure that this is less burdensome for TENs users, each LA would also be required to continue to accept TENs made according to the nationally-prescribed form and process.
Additionally, to increase the number of TENs that can be used for particular premises from 12 to either 15 or 18. These measures will build on measures in this area in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, including steps to allow late TENs and relax statutory limits on the duration of temporary events.
- Following consultation, progress with primary legislation that introduces a process whereby licensing authorities determine the parts of their areas where premises that do not sell alcohol, would require a licence to provide late night refreshment.
This would replace the current default status of the provision of late night refreshment as a licensable activity.
- Following consultation, progress with primary legislation that reduces licensing burdens on businesses, such as small B&Bs, that sell very small amounts of alcohol Wider Hospitality And Tourism
- Revoking smokefree sign regulations.
This will mean that no-smoking signs would still be needed in all premises that are required to be smokefree, but there would no longer be requirements about what the signs have to look like or where they are to be located. The regulations will be replaced with non-statutory guidance to promote good practice. We will develop these in conjunction with industry.
- Action on Energy Performance Certificates for holiday lets. Regulations will be amended so that holiday lets intended to be used for less than 4 months in a year will not require an EPC.
In addition, DCLG guidance will be amended to make clear that an EPC is not required where holiday makers do not have exclusive use of the property during the period of their booking (in which case they will have a licence to use the property rather than being a tenant).
- Action on Private Water Supplies.
In response to comments regarding charging for private water supplies, the Drinking Water Inspectorate will audit local authority performance including availability of charging information. The Chief Inspector will include information regarding which local areas are complying with provision of public information in her annual report 2012 to increase transparency. If satisfactory progress is not evident at this time then the Chief Inspector will advise Defra to amend the Private Water Supplies Regulations to enable the DWI to enforce the provision and publication of information.
- The rationalisation of existing rules around weights and measures for intoxicating liquor.
In addition to measures previously announced to give greater freedom to businesses over the sizes of measures served on some alcoholic drinks, the NMO will look to scrap redundant regulations (SIs 1988/120/ 1993/2060) and explore possibilities for further consolidation.
- A consultation with industry and other stakeholders on removing the statutory code of practice dealing with Noise from Ice-Cream Vans.