02 September 1997
FSA must be "transparent and independent"

By Boyd Champness

THE new Food Standards Agency (FSA) should be “transparent and independent” – but should also report back to the Government, the Church House food safety conference was told today.

Professor Philip James, author of the report on the establishment of an independent FSA, said total independence was necessary to re-instate public confidence in the food industry.

Prof. James, who handed down his report in April this year, said there were four major areas where the public was concerned about food safety:

  • Microbiological safety;
  • Chemical safety;
  • Genetically-modified food; and
  • Nutrition.

    He said that if the FSA, to be established in 1999, could regain the publics confidence over the following five years and, at the same time, operate from a transparent and accountable platform, “then I think we may indeed make progress”.

    The fact that the FSA wont be established for another two years has caused some concern among industry leaders. As an interim measure, the Government has set up a joint food safety standards group as a lead-up to the FSA. The joint group, which encompasses MAFF and the Department of Health, started work yesterday.

    A question from the floor of the conference argued that a two-year timelapse was not good enough. The questioner, who said he represented the families of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) victims, said the Government should conduct a full judicial enquiry into the BSE and CJD crises, since the FSA was not being set up quickly enough.

  • “Consumer confidence in the food industry at an all-time low” – Next story on FWi