Blog: Under-fire FSA tries to strike a balance
Dean Best | 26 March 2010
Speak to most food manufacturers - or Conservative Party officials for that matter - and the UK's Food Standards Agency tends to get a bit of a bashing.
The FSA's critics believe the agency has strayed too far away away from what they see as its core remit - overseeing food safety in the UK - and some in the industry not doubt have been pleased at noises from the Tories that, should they win at the polls in May, they will reduce the agency's powers.
Some in the industry have seen the FSA has being far too prescriptive in the area of health and wellness and far too keen to push through its own agenda at the expense of manufacturers and retailers, particularly on the issue of nutrition labelling (although one would hope this month's recommendation of a "hybrid" labelling model will go some way to appeasing opponents).
However, today's (26 March) publication of guidelines on cuts in saturated fat and added sugar in chocolate, cakes and the like demonstrate the willingness of the FSA to engage with industry and listen to its concerns.
While the FSA has recommended that food businesses cut saturated fat in certain products and make it easier for consumers to buy smaller products, the agency has also recognised the hard work firms have already put in to reformulate their products - and realised how tough it is to change products to meet the new guidelines.
Witness, for instance, the FSA's decision to give companies longer to make a 5% cut in the level of saturated fat in non-plain biscuits and cakes.
Health campaigners no doubt wanted - and still want - the FSA to urge industry to go faster and deeper in its cuts but the agency is fully aware it needs the manufacturers and retailers onside in pushing through what remain voluntary guidelines.
And the industry seems satisfied with the conciliatory approach.
"We are pleased that the Food Standards Agency has recognised the successful work undertaken by food companies and the complexities involved with further reformulation efforts," the Food and Drink Federation said today.
Changing the recipe of a product is indeed complex. The FSA's detractors should realise the agency's work is just as complicated.
Hain Celestial, under the scrutiny of the investment community in recent months and facing some challenges in its domestic market, has announced another shuffling of its management pack....
FrieslandCampina, which today served up higher profits but lower sales for 2016, is ready to offload the last non-dairy business owned by the Dutch cooperative giant....
To follow on from our earlier notice and after some hard work from our technical team, just-food is back live after today's power outage....
Much of the UK has felt the impact of Storm Doris today - and just-food's head office has been no exception....
- Why personalisation will take-off in US food
- General Mills sales woes continue - analysis
- Comment: Meal kits in US - don't believe the hype
- US food next wave on display at Winter Fancy Food
- Column: Kraft Heinz, Unilever and sustainability
- Unilever 'lining up spreads sale'
- UK own-label firm Park Cakes sold in MBO
- Immigration crackdown "risk" for US dairy industry
- BRF plant suspended amid bribery allegations
- Fonterra cuts earnings forecast