EU proposal ‘could kill independent catering industry’

The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) has launched a petition against a piece of legislation that it claims could spell the death of the independent catering industry.

Today will see a vote for proposed changes to EU regulation 882/2004, which will affect the catering industry due to funding changes which will mean that each food hygiene inspection will have a price attached.

The proposals stipulate that every time food premises are visited by public bodies to check hygiene practices, a charge should be issued to the business being checked; this could mean a standard cost of £500 for every inspection including random inspections.

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Previously there was a clause within the Commission’s proposals that detailed measures for calculations of fees and a mandatory exemption for micro-businesses.

The clause stated that a micro-business employing less than 10 people or with a turnover of less than €2m (£1.65m) should be exempt. The clause has been deleted, prompting the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) to launch a petition to reinstate it.

Their stance takes into consideration that one size does not fit all and loss of the clause will leave small businesses very vulnerable.

The vote due to take place today will look at the proposals and decisions will be made to highlight what changes will be agreed moving forward. The proposal could significantly affect the catering industry as authorities such as EHOs will be legally obliged to recover all of the costs of all inspections from the individual businesses.

Mark Laurie, NCASS director, says the original clause was hope for smaller businesses as it outlined that business size would be considered when charging for inspections.

He said one size doesn’t fit all: “Event caterers, market traders and street food traders can be inspected up to 10 times a year. This would mean huge outgoings per year on inspections alone. If this clause is not put back in, it could potentially kill the event catering and street food industry and could pose a major barrier to entry for start up businesses.

“We are supposed to be supporting small businesses in the UK but they will be unable to survive if each inspection costs them as much as £500.”

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