From April, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) staff will be taking over the role of dairy hygiene inspectors on farms in England and Wales, continuing the work of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), which had previously undertaken this task on the FSA's behalf.
Dairy hygiene inspections are carried out on dairy farms to help protect the milk supply from the risk of contamination by bacteria and other substances, some of which are potentially harmful.
Inspectors check milking premises, equipment and milk-producing animals. Official controls within dairy establishments in Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue to be delivered by local authorities and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the FSA said.
As part of the implementation plan agreed between the two organisations, FSA inspectors will be undertaking classroom training and shadowing current dairy hygiene inspectors from AHVLA.
The intensive training will be implemented over a four week period to be ready for the change from 1 April. AHVLA has agreed to continue some inspection visits throughout April and May to ensure a smooth transition over to the FSA.
This change to dairy hygiene inspections follows the FSA's announcement in July 2011 that it was reducing the frequency of official hygiene inspections on dairy farms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to make the system more proportionate to the food safety risks.
Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the FSA, said: "Following an external procurement tender exercise, the FSA decided to transfer delivery of dairy hygiene official controls to FSA Operations staff. This was deemed the most cost effective option for delivering consistent, risk based controls and the best level of consumer protection."