Rhondda Cynon Taf acts as a ‘Food Authority’ under the Food Safety Act and a ‘Feed Authority’ under the Agriculture Act. The responsibility for food standards and feed enforcement falls to the Public Health and Protection division, Trading Standards section.
Through a programme of interventions and advice, the service seeks to ensure that all food and feed producers, manufacturers, importers and retailers within the authority area comply with their legal responsibilities. The Council believes that sampling is an important, and integral, tool in food and feed law enforcement for the following reasons.
- Protecting public health
- Detecting and deterring fraudulent activities
- Verifying that official control checks are effective
- Giving customer’s sufficient information to make informed choices
- Ensuring that food standards are maintained
- Informing the enforcement approach
- Providing product quality advice to the producer
- Promoting fair trade and deterring bad practice
The service will implement and execute annual food sampling and feed sampling programmes. The programmes shall target both the produce of local businesses, and products originating from outside of the authority, but which are offered and supplied to businesses and consumers within the authority.
Such sampling may be for enforcement purposes, in order to provide guidance and advice for local business or as general surveillance of the food and feed market.
The authority will provide sufficient resources, in terms of funding, officers and equipment, in order to deliver the annual food and feed sampling programme.
The Council has appointed Public Analyst Scientific Services to provide Public Analyst and Food and Agriculture Examiner services.In ensuring the most effective use of sampling resources the council will seek to follow any advice from the FSA and other agencies.
The Council participates in the Food Surveillance System UK (FSSUK) which is a Food Standards Agency funded sample and result collation mechanism. Data from FSS is used to target sampling activity and guide councils on getting best value from sampling resources.February 2016The approach to sampling may differ dependent on the factors that lead to the product being sampled, namely:
- a-Process Monitoring: Process monitoring is not considered a priority area of Food and Feed Sampling within the Authority. However, it is considered in conjunction with points b. and c. below.b.
- b-Home Authority and Primary Authority companies within the authority area: Where relevant, sampling for surveys shall include those produced by Home Authority or Primary Authority companies. Where there is a proliferation of a type of food / feed producer in the authority area, consideration shall be had to devising a sampling plan to proactively determine the compliance of these products produced within the authority area.
- c-Inspections and Interventions: Where inspection or intervention indicates that there may be a breach of food or feed legislation, or the officer considers the need to sample. Proactive food and feed sampling surveys may also be carried out during inspections to reduce the number of enforcement visits to any one premise. Where imported food or feed is found samples will be considered. Additionally, under the Food Standards Agency risk rating for interventions, an officer may determine that the next intervention is to be carried out through sampling.
- d-Food and Feed Complaints: Where a consumer complaint is recorded, the consumer shall be advised on maintaining the integrity of any remaining part of the food / feed and associated packaging or labelling, which may be required for evidential purposes, until such a time that the officer can attend to collect the item. Only in extreme circumstances shall any formal action be taken from analysis of a consumer complaint sample; however, the officer shall seek to purchase a second ‘control’ sample of the same batch or production run as the consumer complaint sample, in order that it can be analysed alongside the consumer complaint sample.
- e-Special Investigations: Where there is an ongoing food or feed investigation, samples may be taken in furtherance of the investigation: to either attempt to consolidate the investigation or to test statutory defences. Additionally, where intelligence is received of a current food or feed fraud issue, the authority shall consider sampling to assist any national investigation.
- f-National, Regional & Local Coordinated Programmes: Where practicable and possible, the authority shall endeavour to take part in national, regional and local coordinating sample programmes. Such programmes aim to provide a larger picture for less authority resource, and can provide intelligence into such aspects as process or product monitoring. In devising the authority food and feed sampling programme, regard shall be had to those planned coordinated programmes; in circumstances where the authority is invited to take part in a coordinated sample programme midway throughout the year, the authority shall endeavour to take part, if necessary substituting something from the existing programme. Where relevant, results from local programmes shall be fed into regional and national groups in order to inform future sampling programmes.
In addition to samples taken formally or in accordance with Codes of Practice, the authority shall also carry out a number of informal or screening samples as a mode of intelligence gathering.