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Cost of Compliance

We have just had another visit from our veterinary officer to make sure that we are compliant with the tomes of legislation that seems to grow and expand on a daily basis to ensure, apparently, that you, the consumer, do not suffer from any known or unknown disease, parasite or bacteria that might harbour in the deepest recesses of the sanitised smokehouse.

Consumers can sleep easy at night knowing that we, like all food processors, in Ireland are subjected to regular inspection by the Dept of Agriculture, the SFPA, the FSAI, Cork County Council etc etc.

Each time, one of these bodies want us to do something new; we get that sorted then they find something else for us to tick more boxes, get tested, buy new shoes, get temperature mapped, get thermometers calibrated, remove this, buy that and on it goes.  Is there some overpaid civil servant up there in Dublin and/or Brussels dreaming up new challenges to keep them and their merry team of inspectors in a job?

Headlines today:  “Rip-off Republic”.

Is it any wonder when the costs of compliance are so high?

Ten years ago we built our smokehouse here ouside Timoleague; for ten years we have been using the same smoking kiln. Why, after ten years of production, do they want us to spend serious money to get our kiln temperature mapped? Why didn’t they ask us to do it ten years ago? What information do they expect to glean from mapping it now? We know how it works, we know where the hot and cold spots are, we know how to control it; that’s our experience, that’s what we do.

Small producers are throttled by the inspectorate; good work has been done by the Artisan Forum with the FSAI, but there is still this No Risk mentality that permeates. Risk is part of our life. Remove all risk and perhaps the bureaucrats may be happy, but the rest of us won’t.

9 thoughts on “Cost of Compliance

  1. Good rant! And do the Europeans pay any attention to all these rules and regulations? Of course, not…. they just do what the do!

  2. Well said Anthony, I find myself increasingly a pen pusher not a butcher.

  3. Well said indeed: compliance is so costly for smaller producers, its as if the only the big boys will get to carry on on this “food island” of ours……..

    Here’s an idea: the inspectors should have to pay market price for the samples they take away to test. Seriously, cheese producers are loosing kilos to numerous tests, out of proportion to all sense of risk.

    That might introduce a sense of proportionality into the mix.

    1. Great idea, Ollie! But it’s also the duplication of these tests. We ourselves spend a large amount of money getting identical tests done because the regulatory bodies require us to!
      It’s the duplication that adds to all our costs, duplication of tests, duplication of inspections. Because we smoke both meat and fish, we have the Dept of Agriculture AND the SFPA descending on us, both under the auspices of the FSAI.
      Why not just one inspectorate?
      I guess that would mean we would have to have less public servants and, heavens above, the country might start getting its finances under control!

  4. The “no risk” culture is out of control! Too many, terrorising too few and for too long! Common sense has to prevail to radically reduce interference from intellectual idealists who have absolutely no idea how to refrain from pressurizing small and fledgling producers to spend money and time unnecessarily. There is a political and beauraucratic culture which has grown insidiously over the past ten years having it’s roots in Brussels. The leading countries in all of this culture is France and Germany, who, between them, have dreampt up the most ludicrous regime of food safety in production and sales. Travel to any French country market and see for yourselves how stall after stall flaunt the “rules” with impunity! Why? Because officials know that if they become embroiled in a controversial decision involving a stall holder, they would be lucky to exit the market with their dignity intact. That is our problem, we do not complain enough, loudly enough, or indeed roughly enough. Most producers are stuck out in quiet country locations because of reduced costs, and “officialdom” know that and prey on the weak and the defenseless. It is high time that these “Idealist Officials” were made to pay full price for so called “samples” and also made to pay the producer for his or her time, and the time of their employees, and for lost production whilst they carry our “tests” to ascertain whether or not equipment made for the specialized jobs that equipment is used for, is fit for the purpose. That would in part help to maintain a balance between “bullying” inspectors and the small food producer.

  5. the duplication _must_ be addressed as it is completely wasteful. Surely that’s one for the artisan food forum, bord bia vantage et al?!?
    Yes Anthony, it would threaten the status quo re work etc, but surely an objective look from outside (like, for all its faults, the McCarthy report) would see that?

    More food producers kept in business is more important that useless work (ie replicated/duplicated) work.

  6. Many thanks for all your comments.
    I got an email from Ruth Hegarty of Euro-toques Ireland yesterday which outlines their current project to help small food producers (of all types) with the struggle of compliance.
    I have posted the contents of her email (with her permission) as a separate blog post at http://www.ummera.com/?p=399 as I do think that everyone should see it and act on it.

  7. Well said Anthony and everyone. Lets hope Euro-toques Ireland can help us all out. Because of all the unnecessary paper work, extra machinery etc. will eventually put the small producers out of business.

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