About the Food Standards Agency
The aim of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to protect the health of the public and the interests of consumers in relation to food. Since it was established in April 2000, it has made its mark as a new kind of public authority – independent, proactive, energetic, open about policy and honest about risks. It is led by a Board of up to 14 non-executive members, including the Chair, Lord Rooker, and Deputy Chair, Dr Ian Reynolds.
Collectively all Board members share responsibility for the whole FSA. The Chair and Deputy Chair are appointed by the Secretary of State for Health acting jointly with the appropriate authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Two Board members are appointed by Scottish Ministers, one member is appointed by the National Assembly for Wales and one by the DHSSPS in Northern Ireland. Each of these members chairs or is a member of their local Advisory Committee and acts as a route through which information and advice relevant to FSA interests is relayed to the Board. They also (with the Director and staff of the executive of that country) represent the FSA to the media. The remaining eight members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Health. The appropriate authorities consult each other before appointments are made.
We aim to protect consumers by improving the safety of food and by giving honest, clear information, and to make it simpler for everyone to choose a healthy diet. The FSA’s new strategy for 2010-2015 can be found at:
The five outcomes we aim to deliver are:
- Food produced or sold in the UK is safe to eat
- Imported food is safe to eat
- Consumers understand about safe food and healthy eating, and have the information they need to make informed choices
- Food products and catering meals are healthier
- Regulation is effective, risk based and proportionate, is clear about the responsibilities of food business operators and protects consumers and their interest from fraud and other risks.
The FSA's remit covers the food chain from "farm to fork". This includes working with and closely to a very wide range of stakeholder groups to improve food safety at every step of the food chain. Other partners or stakeholders include the local authorities who, together with DARD in Northern Ireland and from April 2010 the FSA’s Operations Group (formerly the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS)) in Great Britain, enforce food law; a wide range of government departments; other regulators; and the European Commission and the FSA’s counterparts in the EU and elsewhere. Internal and external relationships are thus very complex.
Since it was established in April 2000, the FSA has sought to make its mark as a new kind of public authority – independent, proactive, energetic, open about policy and honest about risks. We have won recognition both nationally and internationally for restoring the trust of UK consumers in the way food safety is regulated. Critical factors in our early success have included:
- our status and reputation as an independent voice, at arm’s length from the political process and not beholden to any specific interest group;
- an open and honest approach to the management and communication of food related risks;
- the involvement of stakeholders in policy development from the earliest possible stage; and
- a proactive approach to securing the best available evidence from national and international experts.
These have helped deliver:
- a 19% reduction in foodborne illness
- the introduction of more proportionate BSE controls
- a significant progress in improving consumer understanding of diet and health through promotion of front of pack labelling
- successful work with industry to reformulate food products to reduce salt levels, contributing to a reduction in average salt intakes
The FSA is undergoing substantial change, including bringing the functions of the MHS – and all our other work relating to operational delivery of food law enforcement – within a single department. This ‘One Agency’ has involved working more collaboratively and efficiently with colleagues so we can truly become one organisation and deliver the best possible outcomes for stakeholders.
The FSA is keen to strengthen its employer brand, sending messages to the labour market which are intended to attract high calibre executive and board level candidates who can operate within this environment of change, providing strong, directional leadership and a shared sense of purpose and outcomes.
About FSA Northern Ireland
Very unusually for a Government department, we have a UK-wide remit whilst operating in a devolved policy area.
The FSA is accountable, through Health Ministers, to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the devolved administrations, and also to the Westminster Parliament. Working in the context of devolution has its advantages, as we can take into account specific Northern Ireland needs and issues, whilst still ensuring a consistent, UK-wide approach to food safety which, of course, does not recognise political or geographical boundaries.
The FSA Board is advised by the statutory Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee.
In addition to the chair, who is the Board member appointed by Northern Ireland Ministers the NI Food Advisory Committee has eight other members, who collectively provide a wide base of knowledge of food and food-related issues. The role of the Advisory Committee is to give advice or information to the Agency about matters connected with its functions, including in particular matters affecting or otherwise relating to Northern Ireland.
A wide range of information about the Food Standards Agency’s work can be found on our website www.food.gov.uk
and in our Annual Report for 2008/9, available from The Stationary Office or from libraries, and at:
You are able to watch video recordings of previous FSA Board Meetings at:
And you can read more about the Northern Ireland Food Advisory at: