At its quarterly meeting on 5 December 2018, the Food Standards Agency Board discussed the FSA’s resilience, capability and capacity following EU exit and critical elements of food standards at its quarterly board meeting.
The FSA is delivering a two-year programme to prepare the food and feed regulatory regime for the UK’s exit from the EU. The Board considered and endorsed a further series of progress reports and specific measures for the FSA’s Day One exit-readiness, and also reflected on a briefing received in advance of the meeting, from Defra officials, about delivering the new Import Notification System.
In addition, the Board discussed progress on strengthening protections for food allergic consumers, a top priority for the FSA. Measures in the last 18 months have included:
- instigating a world-leading research programme on adult onset allergy
- a successful ‘easytoASK’ campaign targeting food businesses and young adults (the most vulnerable age group)
- improving recalls of food, where allergy issues are a prevalent cause
- supporting prosecutions in allergy cases
The FSA and Defra are reviewing allergen regulation for food that is pre-packed for direct sale, which will shortly be issued for consultation.
The Board noted the link between the allergen issue, and the results of a review commissioned by the FSA into the delivery of food standards official controls. The review provided evidence that in general, the current arrangements were unsatisfactory, under resourced, struggling to recruit skilled staff, and hampered by inflexible regulation. The Board agreed that a comprehensive redesign was required, which would provide better assurance, more agility, and help local authorities to evidence that they meet their statutory obligations.