SFAC REPORT INTO FARMERS MARKET SURVEYFriday, 15th Feb 2002
The retail meat industry has been watching the development of Farmers Markets with great interest and now recognise that this report helps to create a level playing field for fair competition.
This is all retail butchers have been seeking since they fear that these markets are in a privileged position where enforcement of regulation is concerned.
Douglas Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders said:
"We do not think that farmers and consumers understand the indirect costs of operating in this industry and are watching with interest to see if there are any tips to be taken from we hear reported as resounding success stories.
"We have been very concerned that the enthusiasm for these markets might undermine the recently upgraded standards that butchers shops now work under. The report confirms that consumer confidence and legislative requirements should not be relaxed just because meat is being sold from a market stall by farmers."
His Federation welcomes the recommendations made in the report reminding Local Authorities of the need to ensure the systematic inspection of farmers markets, requiring a statement of inspection policies for farmers markets to be included in the annual reports submitted under the Food Standards Agency/Local Authority Framework Agreement.
The Federation looks forward to sharing the standardised advice and guidance documents being made available to all traders by Local Authorities in co-operation with across Scotland. It will be useful to receive additional guidance made available both in printed form and on an appropriate Internet site, so that updating and revision of the documents can be undertaken at regular intervals.
The Federation also welcomes food safety training for stallholders and their staff, and where there are statutory requirements for training the desire to ensure that the same standards apply in farmers markets as in other retail outlets selling the samegoods.
The Federation is pleased to read SFAC recommendation that information from Enforcement Officers of the cold-chain conditions associated with the sale of meat and meat products in farmers markets should be continually monitored.
Again the recommendation that the Food Standards Agency in Scotland considers the preparation of an advisory publication on labelling designed for use by all traders.
The Federation is surprised with the recommendation that FSAS urgently reviews the derogation to butchers under the Fresh Meat Regulations, and seeks to find a regulatory solution which, whilst consistent with the relevant EU Directive, will safely provide greater market flexibility in regard to the cutting and packaging of meat. Anything that reduces the burden of over inspection in the industry is helpful.
With the introduction of Butchers Shop Licencing in 2000 Scottish consumers have been supplied with the confidence to shop at independent butchers. The SFAC report will ensure that important standards are maintained.