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Retailers fear extra £100m food storage bill

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The government needs to do more to prevent retailers incurring a new bill of “at least £100 million” caused by proposed changes to food storage legislation, it was argued over the weekend.

Amendments to legislation being considered by the European Commission (EC) will make no difference to hygiene standards, will have a damaging impact on the environment and represent a further example of how red tape is stopping UK businesses grow, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Comments from the pressure group come with the EC planning to introduce revised Food Hygiene Regulations requiring all chilled food to be kept at a temperature of two degrees Celsius during transition and when being stored. Currently, UK retailers can establish their own practices providing they are able to prove temperatures are safe.

BRC Food Director Andrew Opie said: “Retailers already follow rules which ensure food is stored and delivered at temperatures which keep it in top condition. New legislation dictating a specific temperature wouldn’t do anything to improve safety or quality.

“The government has made a lot of noise about its Red Tape Challenge and its intentions to reduce regulation. This is a key test. The government has been supportive on this issue but if it’s serious about supporting business growth, opposing the introduction of this kind of flawed legislation by Europe needs to be a priority.”

Updating equipment would cost large retailers alone at least £100 million, according to the BRC, and with business rates set to increase in the new year along with low consumer confidence expected to continue into 2012, further costs would not be welcomed across the sector.

“These proposals would cost retailers and the environment dear while benefitting no-one,” Opie argued.

“It’s time for ministers to prove their commitment to better regulation by supporting the fight against them.”

Published on Monday 12 December by Editorial Assistant

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