UK merges milk watchdog with animal health body

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk, Mergers and acquisitions, Food standards agency

Efforts to save money and make farm inspections more efficient in
the UK have seen the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate merge with the
country's veterinary service this week.

Britain's State Veterinary Service swallowed up the Dairy Inspectorate (DHI) as the first in a series of mergers designed to simplify inspection regimes operating in the UK. The DHI, with 34 inspectors, was responsible for safeguarding the nation's raw milk supply.

The UK government believes the merger will improve this function, as well as produce undisclosed 'synergies'.

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of the State Veterinary Service, said: "It will strengthen our capacity and widen our remit as well as making us a more customer-focused, more effective delivery agent both day-to-day and in an emergency."

The DHI inspected around 15,000 milking premises, equipment, milking practices and milk-producing animals each year. There are around 13,500 registered milk producers in England and Wales, according Milk Development Council figures.

Several dairy firms also carry out their own tests on raw milk supplies, in an attempt to ensure contaminated milk does not reach shop shelves.

Irish firm Glanbia was earlier this year investigating a small number of its suppliers over suspicions that they tampered with their milk. Routine testing by the group discovered a problem, it said.

The self regulatory approach has become a necessary part of food safety and quality assurance, largely because authorities rarely have the resources to track everyone in the industry. A risk-based approach to food safety was officially adopted by the UK government after the Hampton Report in 2005.

Milk producers in England would also face less inspections from authorities if they were members of quality assurance schemes, under the guidelines of a current consultation on enforcing EU food hygiene laws on farms.

The UK Food Standards Agency will close the consultation by 20 November.

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