Food Standards Agency's responsibilites shared

21st July 2010 - Fine Cut

Decisions about the labelling found on packaging will be split between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Health, after the government decided the Food Standards Agency (FSA) should primarily focus on food safety.

Despite a rumour that the government were considering abolishing the FSA as part of its budget cuts, the decision has been made to uphold the body, but to hand over some of its jobs to other government departments.

The Department of Health will now oversee nutrition policy with DEFRA responsible for product labels. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said during the announcement that both charities and the government are responsible for ensuring the reorganisation of responsibilities are followed through.

Mr Lansley told the BBC: "It's absolutely crucial for the Food Standards Agency to continue providing independent expert advice to people about food safety. But bringing nutrition policy into the Department makes sense.

"It will enable a clear, consistent public health service to be created, as our Public Health White Paper later this year will set out," he added.

The FSA was an independent food safety watchdog set up in 2000 after the outbreak of BSE. Recently, the FSA led calls for a traffic light labelling system to be introduced across Europe which would require food companies to label their products red, amber or green depending on the contents of the product.

Lord Rooker, Chair of the FSA said: "Food safety and hygiene have always been at the heart of what the Agency does. They are our top priorities in protecting the interest of consumers."

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