Insurers would be prepared to look at food industry property risks again if a new deal between food industry risk managers and fire safety consultants works out.

Uniq risk manager Derek Mason said that the Food Industry Panels Group has reached an agreement with the Fire Protection Association (FPA) to work on a fire safety guide.

The guide would be part of a design guide that the FPA is formulating on behalf of the insurance industry.

Mason said that property underwriters have become reluctant to even look at food property risks that feature composite panels. The move follows a number of high profile fires that are thought to have been exacerbated by composite panels.

Mason's group, which represents 23 brokers and risk managers, launched a fire risk minimisation guide earlier this month. He said that this guide was presented to the FPA, which is acting as a technical consultant to the insurance industry.

It is understood that the guide will be the starting point for the design rules. Mason said it would take about six months to develop. The design guide steering group will comprise food industry risk managers, chief fire officers and two underwriters.

Over the past decade, insurers and panel manaufacturers have argued about the fire risks of composite `sandwich' panel cladding, which has metal skin with insulant filling.