Food Standards Scotland is aware of the statement released by Barwhey’s Dairy last week and subsequent media and social media coverage. Food Standards Scotland strongly disagrees with the allegations put forward by Barwhey’s Dairy.
There are a number of inaccuracies in the statement and coverage which have painted a false impression of Food Standards Scotland’s role. The statement suggests that a key reason for Barwhey’s decision to close was the “increasingly invasive and onerous inspection and testing regime” being proposed by Food Standards Scotland.
Barwhey’s Dairy was subject to an annual inspection. It is the Local Authority, South Ayrshire Council (SAC), which is responsible for undertaking inspections at the business to ensure their food safety management system is compliant with EU Food Hygiene Regulations, not Food Standards Scotland. The inspection and testing regime applied to this business fully aligns with the requirements of EU food law and is no more onerous than would be expected for any other business producing a ready-to-eat food product.
Concerns have been raised across the raw milk cheese sector in Scotland regarding draft guidance which is currently being developed by the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee to improve food safety management across this sector.
This guidance addresses a recommendation made by the report of the Incident Management Team Report of the 2016 outbreak of E. coli O157 in Scotland and has been under development since then.
It takes account of discussions between Food Standards Scotland, the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association and Local Authorities, the findings of a consultation with Scottish raw milk cheese producers and the outputs of a review commissioned by FSS to evaluate the scientific evidence and approaches that may be employed to control pathogen risks in raw milk cheese production. The key aim of this guidance will be to support raw milk cheese businesses in the development of their food safety management systems, and ensure a consistent approach to enforcement across this higher risk sector.
This statement also claimed that Food Standards Scotland has “a well-publicised aversion to raw milk cheese making”. Food Standards Scotland has no hidden agenda or vendetta against cheese made from unpasteurised milk, artisan producers or particular businesses. Our role is to protect public health.