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Consumers have as much influence as the state when it comes to steering risk management practice by business

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State regulators and consumers are crucial influences on the risk management practices of the retail food sector in the UK finds a new report by academics from LSE. Trade associations and consultancies are also significant, although there are concerns about the nature of some of the consultancy advice given, while insurance companies may be a negative influence on risk management.

Professor Bridget Hutter| and Clive Jones of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at LSE conducted a detailed survey of the management hierarchy and practices of over 30 micro, small, medium and large sized food retail and catering businesses in England and Scotland from 2002-2006.

The researchers examined how businesses respond to risk and regulation and what influenced the business management of food safety and food hygiene risks in the UK. They found:

  • The state remains a key but not exclusive influence on business risk management.
  • Locally based Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are most important, especially at shop floor level. 68 per cent of managers in medium and large size businesses and 67 per cent of micro and small business managers claim that EHOs are a strong influence when considering food safety and hygiene risks.
  • Trade associations and consultancies are important influences but consultancies evoke mixed responses with some seen as a source of 'gold plating' regulation.
  • Insurance companies are regarded with some cynicism, some regard them as a negative influence on risk management.
  • The media, NGOs and lawyers do not rate highly in terms of external influence.
  • Size matters - small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are more reliant on state regulatory systems than large businesses; they are less likely to belong to trade associations or employ consultants.

Click here to download a copy of Business Risk Management Practices: the influence of state regulatory agencies and non-state sources|

Ends.

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Notes:

Business Risk Management Practices: the influence of state regulatory agencies and non-state sources will be presented at the Law and Society Conference in Baltimore, USA on 7 July 2006.

Bridget Hutter is director of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation.

Clive Jones is research assistant and project manager of the Management Responses to Risk and Regulation project at the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation.

We gratefully acknowledge the funding of the Michael Peacock Charitable Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Notes to editors:

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC total expenditure in 2005/6 is £135million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk| 

Press cuttings

Health & Medicine Week
Consumer hygiene fears keep the food industry on its toes (18 Sep 06)
A major outbreak of E.coli 0157 poisoning in which 500 people were affected and 20 people died seems to have led to improvements in the management of food risks in the retail and catering industries in Scotland, according to ESRC funded research at LSE. A report from the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) said that an education campaign following the 1996 outbreak raised the profile of food safety and hygiene and brought home the importance of environmental health officers (EHOs) and the human costs of poor practices.

Also in a number of journals including World Disease Weekly, Science Letter, Managed Care Business Week, Life Science Weekly and Genetics & Environmental Health Week

Medical News Today
Food Industry Kept On Its Toes By Consumer Hygiene Fears (31 Aug)
A major outbreak of E.coli 0157 poisoning in which 500 people were affected and 20 people died, seems to have led to improvements in the management of food risks in the retail and catering industries in Scotland, according to ESRC funded research at the London School of Economics.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=50773| 

Also in United Press International:
http://www.upi.com/ConsumerHealthDaily/view.php?StoryID=20060830-063907-8389r| 

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Environmental health the leading influence on food safety says LSE

Environmental health officers are the most important influence on businesses when considering food safety and hygiene risks, a new report by the London School of Economics has shown.

posted 23 June 2006

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