FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

Proposals from the Food Standards Agency on modernising food hygiene enforcement activity, highlighting the importance of Assured Advice as a mark of a responsible business, have been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is consulting on ways to ensure that enforcement resources are focused on the businesses that pose the greatest risk to consumers, as well as updating their processes to give more flexibility for officers to monitor the rating and risk of businesses.

In its submission, ACS has called for the FSA to make use of the Primary Authority register to identify businesses that are lower risk, due to the standards and practices that they have in place through their participation in an Assured Advice scheme.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Thousands of convenience retailers now offer a wide variety of fresh food and meals prepared on site for customers, so food hygiene is a top priority. We welcome the FSA’s progress toward a modernised system that focuses on the businesses that will be at most risk, and urge the agency to recognise those who follow Assured Advice as lower risk.”

ACS and Surrey and Bucks Trading Standards operate one of the biggest Assured Advice schemes in the UK, providing comprehensive guides on all areas of a convenience store business that are in scope of the scheme. For retailers that follow Assured Advice, their processes have to be respected by local enforcement officers, even if they have a different interpretation of the law.

ACS’ Assured Advice guide on Food Safety and Natasha’s Law compliance is available here: https://www.acs.org.uk/advice/food-safety-natashas-law