The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a call to tender for the sampling of food at retail, and different analyses of contaminants in food to provide greater efficiency and flexibility in setting up new surveys and research projects.
The watchdog said many of its sampling and analytical needs are similar in nature and appointing preferred contractors would mean that a separate tender would not be needed for each project.
An organisation may apply for more than one of the five packages and contracts would be agreed between the agency and the preferred contractors for a period of four years.
Single preferred contractor aim
The FSA said the aim of the tender is to appoint a single preferred contractor per Lot for the retail sampling of food and for the analyses of inorganic contaminants, organic environmental contaminants and process contaminants.
The five packages are:
- sampling of food at retail
- analyses of inorganic contaminants in food
- analyses of organic environmental contaminants in food
- analyses of process contaminants in food
- analyses of inorganic contaminants and organic environmental contaminants in food
Individual projects would be ‘called off’ these contracts by the agency by agreeing a scope of work and pricing schedule with the appointed contractors for each specific survey.
These ‘call-off contracts’ would not place an obligation on the agency to use the preferred contractors for all sampling and analyses and no funding would be guaranteed.
Applications should be submitted online by 5pm on 18 December.
Change of meat audits
The FSA also announced that from last week it is changing the way audits of meat plants are recorded and the new audits will appear on its website from late November.
The audits aim to ensure food business operators are complying with food law requirements and ensure they meet relevant standards in relation to public and animal health and welfare.
The main changes include weighted questions based on significance to food safety, different parts of the operation will now fall under just one audit, in co-located establishments and businesses with complex processes or a high throughput but with robust controls and systems in place will be able to reduce their audit frequency to every eight months.
The changes, developed in consultation with the meat industry, better reflect the relevant areas of legislation that are applicable to the audits, said the FSA.