The regulating of the UK wine industry could change hands next year. A public consultation has been launched which could see the authority for the wine industry move to the Food Standards Agency from the Wine Standards Board. The move is an attempt by the UK Government to consolidate regulatory powers throughout the UK to improve efficiency.

The Common Agricultural Policy (Wine) (England and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001 will be amended following the end of the consultation on 10 March. While the Food Standards Agency will take control of quality, labelling and standards in the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which runs the Wine Standards Board, will retain its industry support and policy functions for the wine sector.

"We do not envisage that these amendments will have any immediate impact on wine producers and businesses which are currently inspected by the Wine Standards Board as local inspection and enforcement arrangements are unaffected by these changes," the department said in a letter to consultees last week.

In the Hampton Report, issued with the 2005 Budget, Philip Hampton recommended the use of risk-based inspections and reducing 31 small regulators to 7 larger bodies.