David Cameron, the United Kingdom’s new Premier was making his first official visit to the White House, when a “written Prime Ministerial Statement” was released back in London.
In the July 20 statement, the UK’s new coalition government announced it would retain the independent Food Safety Agency with “a renewed focus on food safety.”
“The Food Standards Agency will remain a non ministerial department reporting to Parliament through Health ministers,” the announcement said.
Only days ago, the new government was said to be considering ending the agency, and merging its parts into ministerial departments.
“Food safety and hygiene have always been at the heart of what the Agency does,” says Food Standards Agency Chair Lord Rooker. “They are our top priorities in protecting the interests of consumers.”
Responsibility for nutritional policy in England will shift to the Department of Health and authority for country of origin labeling and other food labeling not related to food safety and food composition policies in England will go to the Department for Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs.
Those changes will mean about 100 Food Standards Agency positions will shift to one of the other two ministerial departments, the government said.
“The Government recognizes the important role of the Food Standards Agency in England, which will continue to be responsible for food safety,” the statement continued. “The Food Standards Agency will remain a non ministerial department reporting to Parliament through Health ministers.”
The agency, created a decade ago, today has authority for both food and meat safety in the UK.
It is the equivalent of both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) in the United States.
According to agencies, here’s how the new government organization lines up:
Food Standards Agency
-Retains a clearly defined departmental function focused on its core remit of food safety. This means that, on crucial issues of food safety, the independent advice from agency experts would be final.
-Retains current responsibility for nutrition and labeling policy in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
-Approximately 2,000 staff will remain at the Food Standards Agency.
Department of Health
-Nutrition policy (for England) will be transferred to the Department of Health. This includes front of pack nutrition labeling, such as Guideline Daily Amounts.
-The transfer of nutrition policy into the Department of Health directly contributes to the Government’s plans for public health. In the long-term, bringing policies ‘in house’ will enable better services to be created and clearer information to be given to the public.
-The Department of Health will, as a result, be able to press industry to contribute more on improving the health of the nation. This includes reformulation, and provision of nutrition information in supermarkets and restaurants.
-Approximately 70 policy posts will move to the Department from the Food Standards Agency.
Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs
-Country of Origin Labeling will transfer to Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (for England). This will support delivery of the Government’s commitment to deliver honesty in food labeling and ensure that consumers can be confident about where their food comes from.
-It will also support delivery of one of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ top priorities: Ministers’ firm commitment to support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production, and promote increased domestic food production.
-Other policy areas that will transfer to the department include composition policy, which is about agreeing the components and standards for characterizing products such as honey, jam, chocolate, ice-cream or meat content of sausages).
-Approximately 25 policy posts will move to the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs from the Food Standards Agency.