Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is to come in line with the authorities in England and Wales by recognising feed businesses that are accredited to the feed assurance schemes – FEMAS, TASCC and UFAS.

This means that companies complying with these schemes will benefit from fewer inspections and less sampling through ‘earned recognition’.

DAERA is to implementing revisions to the Feed Enforcement Guidance published by the Food Standards Agency, bringing the Province into line with the Code of Practice that operates in England and Wales. The code includes a modified risk assessment scheme, with a greater weighting towards membership of voluntary quality assurance schemes, as part of an earned recognition scheme.

“This is welcome news and means feed businesses in Northern Ireland can enjoy the benefits of earned recognition,” said John Kelley, managing director of AIC Services which operates the AIC assurance schemes. “This represents a significant benefit in both cost and time savings without compromising the safety and integrity of the feed and food chains that supply the consumer.”

Feed business operators are legally responsible for compliance with feed safety legislation, says the AIC. DAERA has officially recognised that the trade takes these responsibilities very seriously and often exceeds the legal requirements. Those businesses which participate and comply with the relevant assurance schemes will be deemed a lower risk by the regulators.

At the same time, DAERA has also declared its ongoing commitment to working with the Food Fortress network in Northern Ireland and has already modified its feed sampling programmes to reflect the information being shared.