Northumberland County Council passes FSA audit

Coun Liz Simpson, deputy business chairman.
Coun Liz Simpson, deputy business chairman.

Auditors from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have confidence in the way that Northumberland County Council administers and enforces the controls on animal feed in the county.

That was the result of a two-day audit that saw the FSA’s auditors examining records and practices, visiting a local business and interviewing officers in the trading standards and animal health team.

The inspection also found the team were responding appropriately to issues found during visits to feed premises and with samples taken, officers were well trained and the annual plan for delivery of the service was good.

Coun Liz Simpson, the council’s deputy business chairman, said: “I am pleased that the FSA has found that the services we provide are good and the officers involved in this work and the audit process deserve credit for this positive result. It is good to see that even in these times when we are talking about continuing cuts to services that the quality of the work our officers carry out is recognised.”

David Sayer, business compliance & public safety unit manager at the council, added: “Work on animal feed is an important part of making sure that everything connected with the food that appears on our plates is safe.

“Our officers visit around 100 farms and other premises in the food chain each year to make sure that products and practices are as safe as they can be. The FSA funds this work on an annual basis and it’s reasonable of them to come and make sure they are getting value for money.”

The auditors will draft up report, which will be published on the FSA website in the autumn. The agency does not issue a formal grading as, for example, Ofsted would do for schools.

Gary Davis, deputy head of regulatory delivery division for the FSA, said: “There are approximately 200,000 feed businesses in the UK contributing around £4.4billion to the economy each year.

“Local authorities including Northumberland play an important role in ensuring feed controls are maintained to avoid major incidents such as foot and mouth and BSE.

“The agency audit had some very positive findings, the local authority were well organised, had a high level of expertise and were making a vital contribution to ensuring food is safe.”