Blog: Change is in the offing for the FSA
Dean Best | 13 July 2010
So, after the bluster over the future of the UK's Food Standards Agency over the last 24 hours, it seems that, for now, it is business as usual at the country's food watchdog.
Reports over the weekend and yesterday morning (12 July) suggested the FSA was set to be abolished and see its functions move into the Department of Health and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In response, the Department of Health told us that "no decision" had been made on the future of the FSA, although all "arms-length bodies" were to go under review as the UK coalition government studies ways to trim public expenditure.
Over at the FSA, the agency insisted it had "no idea" where the stories had come from and said it was "business as normal" at the watchdog.
Later in the day, the Department of Health issued further clarification of its position on the agency.
It said there would continue to be "a robust regulatory function delivered through the FSA" but that it would consider where some of the agency's "other functions should best sit to ensure they are delivered most effectively".
Elsewhere, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, talking to reporters, reiterated that no decision had been made but there would be a review of the agency's functions.
"Before the election I made perfectly clear that in my view the diet and nutrition responsibilities of the Food Standards Agency should form part of a more integrated public health service," Lansley told reporters, according to Reuters.
"But I see no reason to suppose that of itself requires any organisational change in the Food Standards Agency more generally."
Reports of Lansley's comments came at the end of a day when, according to some outlets, the dye was cast for the FSA.
Given the fiscal pressures on the UK coalition and some of the political preferences of parts of the Government for, more broadly, a smaller state, and specifically, reform of the FSA, it is very likely the agency will face a very different future.
However, it is still too early to determine what that future will be. The FSA's supporters and critics will have their views but we will have to wait until the autumn to hear what the future holds for the agency.
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