The UK coalition government has published plans to shake up the Food Standards Agency, with some of the roles of the food watchdog moving to the Department of Health (DoH) and Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). Here is a breakdown of the Government’s plans.
The Food Standards Agency was set up in 2000 and, when it was formed, had “securing food safety” as its “primary purpose”, the DoH said today (20 July).
The coalition’s changes will see the FSA focus on its “core remit of food safety policy and enforcement”. Nutrition policy in England will switch to the DoH, while country-of-origin labelling and “various other non-safety-related food labelling and food composition policies” in the country will move to Defra.
The FSA will still oversee nutrition and labelling policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In England, the DoH’s new responsibilities on nutrition policy will include nutrition labelling; health and nutrition claims; dietetic food and food supplements and calorie information in catering establishments.
The DoH will also oversee reformulation to reduce salt, saturated fat and sugar levels in food and reducing portion size (including in catering); nutrition surveys and nutrition research; scientific advice and secretariat to Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).
Over at Defra, the department will be responsible for food labelling, where it does not relate to food safety or nutrition and food composition standards and labelling, where it is unrelated to food safety. Defra will also lead on EU negotiations for all non-safety aspects of food labelling, except for nutrition.
Around 70 jobs will move from the FSA to the DoH, while approximately 25 staff will switch to Defra. At Defra, the policy transfer will be immediate, with affected staff reporting to Defra ministers and joining the Food Policy Unit at Defra from today, though they will continue to work from the FSA offices for now. Physical moves for staff between offices will take a little longer. Exact timing for the transfer from FSA to the Department of Health, as well as the exact numbers of staff and posts transferred to both Departments will be available in due course.
More to come….