Memorandum from the Food Standards Agency
The consultation letter of 19 June from the
Head of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat refers. Although the
Food Standards Agency was not centrally involved in the policy
development process that led to the documents that are now the
subject of public consultation, the Agency remains committed to
fulfilling its role as a government department, including its
role as lead government department for the consequence management
of food contamination emergencies. I have been asked to reply
to the consultation for the Food Standards Agency, and our comments
on issues of detail follow.
In Chapter 2 of the consultation document, a
definition of emergency is proposed. The definition of an emergency
as "an event or situation which prevents a serious threat
to human welfare", and the definition of human welfare which
includes "loss of human life, human illness or injury, disruption
of a supply of food" are sufficient to cover those eventualities
which the Food Standards Agency would recognise as a food emergency.
It is in our view important that "serious" is included
in the definition to distinguish food emergencies from the several
hundred lesser food incidents that the Agency deals with each
year in collaboration with other agencies through existing and
effective administrative arrangements.
Chapter 3 sets out roles and responsibilities
at the local level. The Food Standards Agency supports the principle
that regulations made under the Bill will build on established
partnership working. You will wish to note the provisions that
exist within the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 for
the authorisation of investigation and enforcement officers, which
the Food Standards Agency has operationalised through the issue
of authorisations to some 1,600 local authority officers to aid
in the management of food incidents at the local level.
Chapter 3 also describes the concept of "co-operating
bodies in both the public and private sectors", which would
be "heavily involved in incidents that affect their sector".
Defra and the Food Standards Agency have discussed with food industry
stakeholders our respective roles in the management of food emergencies.
You will wish to consider whether food and animal feed producers,
processors, distributors and retailers should be included within
5 September 2003