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Food Standards Agency
Abbreviation FSA
Formation 2000
Legal status Non-ministerial government department
Purpose/focus Food safety and nutritional quality in the UK
Location Aviation House, 125 Kingsway (A4200), London
Region served UK
Chair Jeff Rooker
Main organ FSA Board
Website Food Standards Agency

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 throughout the United Kingdom and is led by an appointed board that is intended to act in the public interest. Its headquarters are in London, opposite Holborn tube station, with national offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Meat Hygiene Service and, more recently, the Wine Standards Board are branches of the Food Standards Agency.

Contents

History

It was created in 2000 based on a report by Professor James [1], issued after a number of high-profile outbreaks and deaths from foodborne illness. It was felt that it was inappropriate to have one government department, the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, responsible for both the health of the farming and food processing industries and also 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 Board meeting concludes with a Q&A session in which web viewers can question the Board or its Executive directly.

Structure

Sir John Krebs was the first Chairman of the Food Standards Agency. He resigned in 2005 to become Principal of Jesus College, Oxford. Dame Deirdre Hutton was Chair between 2005 and July 2009. Jeff Rooker is the current Chair of the Food Standards Agency Board [2]. Dr Ian Reynolds is the current Deputy Chair [3].

Events

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Recalls and Contamination

In February 2005, the agency announced the discovery of the dye Sudan I in Worcester sauce, prompting a mass recall of over 400 products that used the sauce as a flavouring. The Agency is advised by the ACMSF (Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food).

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. 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 [4].

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 which 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. (source:- FSA website)

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. [5] One principle criticism, identified in the report, was (Recommendation 20):

"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." [6]

See also

References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Jeff Rooker's profile on Food Standards Agency website[2]
  3. ^ Ian Reynold's profile on Food Standards Agency website[3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ http://www.food.gov.uk/aboutus/how_we_work/historyfsa/deanreview
  6. ^ http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/deanreviewfinalreport.pdf

External links

Video clips


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