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Fish display at a market. Food safety and hygiene will continue to be top priorities for FSA. (Photo: Stock File)

Food Standards Agency will be retained

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Thursday, July 22, 2010, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

The government announced on Tuesday its intent to retain the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with an improved focus on food safety.

The Department of Health (DOH) will be responsible for England’s nutrition policy and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be in charge of country of origin labelling (COOL) and several other kinds of food labelling unrelated to food safety, as well as the country’s food composition policies.

“Food safety and hygiene have always been at the heart of what the Agency does,” affirmed Lord Rooker, Chair of the FSA. “They are our top priorities in protecting the interests of consumers.”

FSA was set up as a non-ministerial Government Department in 2000 primarily to secure food safety and provide vital advice to government and the public.

The reorganisation will add to the government’s goals to better efficiency and is imperative to the key priority of improving the nation’s health by developing a public health service.

Ministers and officials at DOH and DEFRA are collaborating closely with FSA to implement changes. FSA will:

  • Retain a clearly defined departmental function focused on food safety such that, on crucial food safety issues, FSA’s independent advice would be final.
  • Retain current responsibility for nutrition and labelling policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Retain approximately 2,000 staff.

England's nutrition policy will be in charge of DOH, including front of pack nutrition labelling, such as Guideline Daily Amounts.

DOH will consequently be able to push industry to have a greater role in the improvement of the nation’s health, including reformulation and provision of nutrition information in supermarkets and restaurants.

Some 70 policy posts will move from the FSA to DOH.

“Our ambition is to create a public health system that truly helps people live longer and healthier lives,” Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley declared. “It’s absolutely crucial for FSA to continue providing independent expert advice to people about food safety.”

“I believe in the-long term we’ll have a clearer and less bureaucratic system for public health. The end result will focus on turning expert advice and support into better health,” he concluded.

COOL will transfer to DEFRA to support the government’s commitment to deliver honesty in food labelling and make sure consumers can be confident about the origin of their food.

This will also hold up one of DEFRA’s top priorities: Ministers’ firm commitment to back and expand British farming and promote sustainable food production and augmented domestic food production.

About 25 policy posts will move from the FSA to DEFRA.

Related article:

- EP votes for country of origin labelling for fish

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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