The British Health Secretary has announced plans to eliminate the Food Standards Agency. The organization’s responsibilities will be divided between two existing groups, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Health. The government cited wishes to streamline oversight and condense regulation.
The Food Standards Agency is roughly the same as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its elimination is widely regarded as a controversial move. Critics say the government is prioritizing the interests of wealthy big businesses over those of the general population. Marion Nestle, author of Foodpolitics.com says, “The new UK government is not wasting a minute before caving in to food industry demands.”
Some are suggesting that this move is in response to backlash the government received from the food industry for its proposed “traffic light” system. This proposition involved a labeling system in which healthy products would be labeled with a green traffic light, middle-of-the-road ones with a yellow, and yes–you guessed it–unhealthy products with a red light. Big business interests reportedly spent over $1.2 billion to defeat the measure, though it enjoyed widespread popularity among consumers.
The Food Standards Agency–with over 2,000 employees–was set up ten years ago to protect consumer interests with food regulation. The agency’s Website encourages nutritious meal choices and healthy lifestyles.