Time is running out for butchers, grocers, supermarkets and other shops in Wales selling both raw meat and ready-to-eat foods to apply for a butcher’s licence. The Food Standards Agency is warning that licence applications must be made to Local Authorities by 1 June to ensure compliance with the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) (Butchers’ Shops) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2000 by 30 June.



FSA Wales is also reminding those affected that the new legislation aims to further protect the public from eating unsafe food, and will be good news for customers and butchers as a result of increased consumer confidence.



The introduction of the regulations in Wales follows similar legislation in England and Scotland, introduced as a result of the E.coli outbreak in central Scotland in 1996 when 17 people died and more than 500 fell ill. The new scheme aims to minimise the potential of a similar outbreak happening again by setting out requirements for compliance with existing food hygiene legislation, the operation of documented HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) food safety management controls and enhanced staff hygiene training requirements.



Joy Whinney, Director of the FSA Wales commented: “There is still time for butchers in Wales to apply for a butcher’s licence, provided they act quickly. Butchers who have yet to apply should contact their local authority’s environmental health department.



“The introduction of butchers licensing has been a long process but Food Standards Agency Wales has implemented one of the most important safeguards against food poisoning in recent years. This is a landmark in food safety terms and consumers should be made aware of what it means for them.



“By licensing butchers shops, local authorities can ensure that they are meeting strict food hygiene and food safety requirements. The risk of cross-contamination of food should be greatly reduced.”



NOTE TO EDITORS


A licence is dependent on the butcher having a food safety control (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) system in place. Butchers affected by the new regulations were given centrally funded assistance in 1998-99 to prepare HACCP schemes and help them get ready for licensing.