U.K. Finalizes Shake-Up of Food Standards Agency

September 23, 2010

When several cloned cows were confirmed to have entered the U.K. food chain last month, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) received blame for a lack of oversight. As of September 1, responsibilities within the U.K government have now shifted, with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Health assuming some of the FSA...s previous responsibilities.

When several cloned cows were confirmed to have entered the U.K. food chain last month, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) received blame for a lack of oversight.

As of September 1, responsibilities within the U.K government have now shifted, with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Health assuming some of the FSA...s previous responsibilities.

The FSA will maintain its role in covering all aspects of labeling related to food safety, including handling food safety incidents (e.g. fraud and misleading labels that relate to food safety), GM and novel food use, and assessing ingredients with food safety implications (e.g. allergen and high caffeine).

Defra will assume all food labeling responsibilities outside of those relating to food safety. Responsibilities will include general food labeling, country of origin labeling, uses of marketing terms (e.g. natural, fresh, vegetarian), and dealing with food authenticity programs.

The Department of Health will deal with nutrition labeling, including being responsible for front-of-pack labeling, infant formulas, health and nutrition claims, and food supplements.

So far, role changes have only been made in regard to the FSA...s handling of English affairs. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are reportedly still considering whether or not to rearrange the FSA...s responsibilities in their territories.