regulatory by-product
If there is one thing worse than too much legislation it's too much legislation that is badly drafted and poorly implemented. Unfortunately, as anybody in the food and drink industry will tell you, we have had more than our fair share of the latter in recent years.
Now another nasty headache is looming for retailers and manufacturers. And it is all thanks to the rather innocuous sounding animal by-products regulation.
Although the intentions behind these particular EU-inspired rules are clearly very laudable, they have been drafted in such a cack-handed way that many industry experts are predicting chaos once they come into force next month.
Remember the fridge mountains? Well, as our feature on page 36 explains, there are those who fear we could soon see something very similar, albeit much, much nastier.
Now, I heard Defra minister Elliot Morley speak at a recent lunch where he promised the government had no intention of repeating the fridge fiasco where new recycling rules came in before the country had any capacity to deal with them. I was not the only person left with the impression that Defra was coming to the rescue over the animal by-products regulation. Not so, it seems. Retailers will get a partial derogation until 2005 ­ but even that isn't enough to prevent store owners being hit by what the British Retail Consortium is calling "bureaucratic overkill".
This is not the first time we have seen poor legislation damage business in this country. Remember the mess that was created by the delightful packaging waste regulations? That was yet another example of well-intentioned regulators producing a completely daft piece of legislation with ambiguous wording that was then poorly implemented in the UK.
Such nonsense does seem to rain down upon the food and drink industry with frightening regularity.
Turning to the latest bureaucratic hiccup, I truly hope Defra's confidence is well placed and that the UK does have enough facilities to handle the food waste covered by the regs. Otherwise, the consequences are really too awful to contemplate.