Food Standards Agency

Last updated

Food Standards Agency
Welsh: Asiantaeth Safonau Bwyd
Food Standards Agency.svg
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed1 April 2000 (2000-04-01)
Jurisdiction England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Headquarters Petty France,
London, SW1 [1]
Annual budget£159.7 million (2009–2010) [2]
Non-ministerial government department executives
Website www.food.gov.uk OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting public health in relation to food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is led by a board appointed to act in the public interest. Its headquarters are in London, with offices in York, Birmingham, Wales and Northern Ireland. [1] The agency had a national office in Scotland until the formation of Food Standards Scotland in April 2015.

Contents

History

The Agency was created in 2001 based on a report by Professor James, [3] issued after several high-profile outbreaks and deaths from foodborne illness. It was felt that it was inappropriate to have one government department, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, responsible for both the health of the farming and food processing industries, and for food safety.

Uniquely for a UK Government department, the Food Standards Act gave the Agency the statutory right to publish the advice it gives to Ministers, and as a signal of its independence it declared that it would invariably do so. From its inception, the Agency declared that it would take no decisions about food policy except in open board meetings accessible to the public. Since 2003, these meetings have been webcast live, enabling consumers to see the decision-making process in action. Each meeting concludes with a question and answer session in which web viewers can question the board or its executive directly.[ citation needed ]

In 2006, the Wine Standards Board merged with the FSA, bringing with it responsibility for enforcing the EU wine regime in the UK. [4]

Formerly an executive agency of the FSA, the Meat Hygiene Service merged with the FSA in April 2010 to form a new operations group with responsibility for the delivery of official controls. [5]

Certain aspects of food labelling regulations in England were transferred from the Food Standards Agency to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on 1 September 2010. [6] In England, the Agency retains responsibility for food safety-related labelling issues, whereas the devolved Food Standards Agency offices in Wales and Northern Ireland are still responsible for all labelling and standards policy.

Nutrition policy, including nutrition labelling, in England and Wales was transferred from the Food Standards Agency to the Department of Health and Social Care in England and to the Welsh Government's Department of Health and Social Services on 1 October 2010. [7] On the establishment of Public Health England in 2013, the nutrition policy team – led by Alison Tedstone – transferred there. [8]

The Food Standards Agency offices in Scotland and Northern Ireland retained their responsibilities for nutrition policy. Plans to create a new food standards body in Scotland were announced by Ministers in June 2012, [9] and in January 2015 this body was established through primary legislation. Food Standards Scotland took over from the FSA on 1 April 2015 as the public body responsible for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labelling and meat inspection in Scotland. [10]

Chair of the Food Standards Agency

Sir John Krebs was the first Chair of the Food Standards Agency, until 2005. Dame Deirdre Hutton was Chair between 2005 and July 2009, followed by Jeff Rooker until July 2013. Tim Bennett, the former Deputy Chair, was appointed as interim Chair whilst a permanent appointment was made. [11] Heather Hancock was appointed the new Chair on 1 April 2016, for a three-year term, and reappointed for a further three year term from 1 April 2019. [12]

The Agency is advised by a number of independent expert committees, including: the Science Council, the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, the Committee on Toxicity, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes and the Advisory Committee on Social Sciences.

Events

Recalls and contamination

In February 2005, the agency announced the discovery of the dye Sudan I in Worcester sauce, prompting a mass product recall of over 400 products that used the sauce as a flavouring.

On 31 March 2006, it published its "Survey of benzene levels in soft drinks", which tested 150 products and found that four contained benzene levels above the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for drinking water. [13] The Agency asked for these to be removed from sale.

The Food Standards Agency also imposed restrictions on the sheep trade because of the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe [14] which were repealed in March 2012. [15]

Children's advertising

The FSA pushed for stricter rules on TV advertising to children of foods high in salt, sugar and fat and devised a nutritional profiling system to measure the balance of benefit and detriment in individual food products. In 2007, the UK TV regulator Ofcom introduced restrictions on advertising of products that scored poorly under the scheme.

Food poisoning

In June 2002, and re-released in June 2006, the FSA conducted an advertising campaign on British television, highlighting the danger of food poisoning caused by barbecues. The advert, intended to shock viewers, shows sausages sizzling on a barbecue, looking to the viewer as if they are cooked. However, when a pair of tongs pick up one of these sausages, it falls apart, and reveals pink, uncooked meat in the middle. To emphasize the risk of diarrhoea and vomiting caused by food poisoning, the song "When Will I See You Again" by The Three Degrees is played in the background. [16]

Dean Review

In 2005, Brenda Dean carried out an independent review of the Food Standards Agency. The report made 22 recommendations, all of which were accepted by the Food Standards Agency board. [17]

Dean concluded:

My overwhelming impression, having undertaken this Review, is of an organisation that has been extremely conscious of the importance of fulfilling the very serious responsibilities of changing both the perception and the reality of food safety in the UK.

It has done well in taking forward the experiences, good and bad, of the previous regime, to begin building its own reputation.

Most stakeholders agreed that the Agency has made significant progress towards improving food safety, gaining public confidence in food safety, and creating a modern culture in which it is the norm for procedures, information, consultation and decision-making to be in the public domain and to involve external stakeholders.

There was overwhelming support for the Agency’s policy of basing decisions on scientific evidence, and for this policy to be maintained and developed further. The vast majority of stakeholders believe the Agency to be independent and to act independently, with general recognition that decisions are based on scientific evidence.

There was general support for the Agency amongst all stakeholder groups, both in terms of the objectives of the Agency, and the way in which the Agency has approached and undertaken its responsibilities.

One principal criticism, identified in the report, was (Recommendation 20): [18]

It is clear that many stakeholders believe the Agency has already made policy decisions on GM foods and organic foods and is not open to further debate. The Agency must address the perceptions of these stakeholders who have now formed views of the Agency founded on their belief that the basis upon which the Agency’s policy decisions were made was flawed.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS)

A food hygiene rating scheme has been deployed by the Food Standards Agency for all food businesses. Ratings are available at the business premises and online. [19] Following a meeting in Cardiff, the FSA plans to make audit reports as widely available as possible for the public. According to Terence Collins, FSA’s Director of communication, the reason behind this decision is to make ratings simple and easily understood for every single business.

Apart from Scotland which is under a very simple Food Hygiene Information Scheme, the FSA’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme will be tested throughout United Kingdom. As a result, ratings will range from 0 (improvement urgently needed) to 5 (very good), and may be displayed on a certificate. This information will also be made available online. Rating primary meat processing plants is the next step forward for the FSA, as meat audit are currently only available through Freedom of Information requests. [20]

The local authority in Rutland is believed to the only one which has not accepted the scheme. [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

Minister of Health (Canada)

The minister of health is the minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for overseeing health-focused government agencies including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as enforcing the Canada Health Act, the law governing Canada's universal health care system. The current minister is Patty Hajdu.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeking to protect public health, animal health, the environment and promoting animal welfare by assuring the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines in the United Kingdom.

Natural food

Natural food and all-natural food are terms in food labeling and marketing with several definitions, often implying foods that are not manufactured by processing. In some countries like the United Kingdom, the term "natural" is defined and regulated; in others, such as the United States, the term natural is not enforced for food labels, although there is USDA regulation of organic labeling.

Food policy

Food policy is the area of public policy concerning how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, or provided. Food policies are designed to influence the operation of the food and agriculture system balanced with ensuring human health needs. This often includes decision-making around production and processing techniques, marketing, availability, utilization and consumption of food, in the interest of meeting or furthering social objectives. Food policy can be promulgated on any level, from local to global, and by a government agency, business, or organization. Food policymakers engage in activities such as regulation of food-related industries, establishing eligibility standards for food assistance programs for the poor, ensuring safety of the food supply, food labeling, and even the qualifications of a product to be considered organic.

Malone College, Belfast School in Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Malone Integrated College is a grant maintained, integrated, co-educational, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic secondary school, situated in south-west Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Dixy Chicken

Dixy Chicken is a fast food chain that specializes in halal chicken. The company was founded by two British Pakistanis, who offered halal versions of products found in McDonald's and KFC. It is owned by an English company, SABT2 Limited. Dixy Chicken was founded in 1986, and has 110 outlets within the United Kingdom.

Food safety

Food safety is used as a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness. The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illnesses resulting from the ingestion of a common food is known as a food-borne disease outbreak. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potential health hazards. In this way food safety often overlaps with food defense to prevent harm to consumers. The tracks within this line of thought are safety between industry and the market and then between the market and the consumer. In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. In considering market to consumer practices, the usual thought is that food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is the branch of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that regulates food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, drugs, biologics, medical devices, and radiological products.

Food safety in China

Food safety in China is a concern relating to agriculture in the Earth's most populated country. China's principal crops are rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton in addition to apples and other fruits and vegetables. China's principal livestock products include pork, beef, dairy, and eggs. The Chinese government oversees agricultural production as well as the manufacture of food packaging, containers, chemical additives, drug production, and business regulation. In recent years, the Chinese government attempted to consolidate food safety regulation with the creation of the State Food and Drug Administration of China in 2003; officials have also been under increasing public and international pressure to solve food safety problems. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said, "Food is essential, and safety should be a top priority. Food safety is closely related to people's lives and health and economic development and social harmony," at a State Council meeting in Beijing.

A term probably originating in widespread public use with the TV Show The Generation Game in regards to the points scored by contestants, Scores on the doors is also now a term for publication or display of food hygiene or food safety inspection results of food businesses. Regulatory inspection results are published as either an inspection and compliance summary or, elsewhere, a grade or score is all that is published.

New South Wales Food Authority is a statutory authority of Government of New South Wales, responsible for food safety and food labelling regulations in the state as well as consumer food safety promotion. It is part of the DPI Biosecurity and Food Safety Branch within the Department for Primary Industries, which is a part of the Department of Regional NSW.

Michael R. Taylor American politician

Michael R. Taylor is an American lawyer who has played leadership roles on public health and food safety in government, academia, and the private sector, with a major focus on modernizing the U.S. food safety system to prevent foodborne illness. From 2010 to 2016, he was the Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and currently co-chairs the board of Stop Foodborne Illness, a non-profit that supports victims of serious illness victims and their families in efforts to strengthen food safety culture and practices in government and industry.


The Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), established in 1974, was the main committee providing the European Commission with scientific advice on food safety. Its responsibilities have been transferred to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Food Safety and Inspection Service

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that United States' commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. The FSIS draws its authority from the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957 and the Egg Products Inspection Act of 1970. The FSIS also acts as a national health department and is responsible for the safety of public food-related establishments as well as business investigation.

Fisheries law

Fisheries law is an emerging and specialized area of law. Fisheries law is the study and analysis of different fisheries management approaches such as catch shares e.g. Individual Transferable Quotas; TURFs; and others. The study of fisheries law is important in order to craft policy guidelines that maximize sustainability and legal enforcement. This specific legal area is rarely taught at law schools around the world, which leaves a vacuum of advocacy and research. Fisheries law also takes into account international treaties and industry norms in order to analyze fisheries management regulations. In addition, fisheries law includes access to justice for small-scale fisheries and coastal and aboriginal communities and labor issues such as child labor laws, employment law, and family law.

Food Standards Scotland

Food Standards Scotland is a non-ministerial government department of the Scottish Government. It is responsible for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labelling and meat inspection in Scotland. Established by the Food (Scotland) Act 2015, Food Standards Scotland has taken over the responsibilities of the UK-wide organisation, the Food Standards Agency, in Scotland.

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, abbreviated BfR, is a body under public law of the German federal government with full legal capacity. The institute comes under the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and has the task of providing scientific advice to the federal government on issues relating to food safety, product safety, chemical safety, contaminants in the food chain, animal protection and consumer health protection. Further technical supervision is performed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Ministry of Transport.

Food safety in Australia concerns the production, distribution, preparation, and storage of food in Australia to prevent foodborne illness, also known as food safety. Food Standards Australia New Zealand is responsible for developing food standards for Australia and New Zealand.

Alison Tedstone RNutr FAfN is Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE).

References

  1. 1 2 "Contact us". Food Standards Agency. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  2. Food Standards Agency Annual Report 2009–2010, Food Standards Agency, 2 December 2010, retrieved 18 December 2010
  3. "The Food Standards Agency - Preface by the Prime Minister". Archive.official-documents.co.uk. 14 January 1998. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  4. "Wine Standards Board merges with FSA" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 13 May 2006. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012.
  5. "New Operations Group for the Agency" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 31 March 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013.
  6. "Government food labelling changes" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 1 September 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013.
  7. "Transfer of nutrition policy to health departments" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 30 September 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013.
  8. "Alison Tedstone". publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  9. "New Scottish food standards body planned". BBC News. BBC. 27 June 2012.
  10. "About us: A new food body for Scotland". Food Standards Agency. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  11. "Appointment extension for FSA Chair" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  12. "FSA chair appointment" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 4 March 2016.
  13. "Survey of benzene levels in soft drinks" (Press release). Food Standards Agency. 31 March 2006. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012.
  14. "Post-Chernobyl monitoring and controls survey reports". Food Standards Agency. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  15. "Post Chernobyl sheep controls to be removed". Food Standards Agency. 20 March 2012.
  16. http://www.food.gov.uk - FSA website
  17. "Dean Review". Food Standards Agency. 21 March 2005. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  18. Baroness Brenda Dean (1 March 2005). "2005 Review of the Food Standards Agency" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  19. "Food Standards Agency: Food hygiene ratings" . Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  20. "Simple certification of food hygiene ratings" . Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  21. "The Battle of Rutland: Why the council refuses to sign up to the FSA food hygiene rating scheme". Independent. 22 August 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2015.