Following the extraordinary Board meeting in May, the Chair confirmed she had written to Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove to inform him of the Board’s decision to recommend full ingredient labelling on prepacked for direct sale food. It was noted that dialogue was ongoing with the industry to ensure that concerns around the challenges of implementation were addressed, and adequate resourcing was available to work towards the ambition for making the UK the best place in the world for people living with food hypersensitivities.
The Board discussed the FSA’s plans to design a modernised model for food standards official controls as part of the Regulating Our Future (ROF) programme. The new system will be risk-based and intelligence-led, providing improved levels of public protection. While the Board acknowledged the prioritisation challenge this represents, they also noted the plans were in-line with recommendations made in the recent National Audit Office (NAO) report on ensuring food safety and standards. The Board endorsed the direction of this work, referencing the need for a cross-government solution on resourcing for local authorities.
Board members considered the Science Council’s final report on food system risks and horizon scanning. The Board discussed the importance of implementing horizon scanning across the organisation and providing more structure so that the process is standardised across the agency. The Board agreed the proposed FSA response to the recommendations.
The Board were also given an update on official controls on animal feed. They recognised the progress made by the FSA on feed controls since the organisation was set up almost 20 years ago, and the proactive approach which has led to the organisation being at the vanguard of regulatory reform. It was agreed that objectives and outcomes on this issue should be aligned across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a flexible delivery model to accommodate the different circumstances in the three nations. The Board endorsed the risk-based and data-led approach and agreed to an assessment of the current arrangements to ensure feed controls are aligned as far as possible with the principles of the Regulating Our Future (ROF) programme and desired public health outcomes.
The development of a sampling strategy was reviewed, and the Board supported the future strategic approach in this area. The Board acknowledged that sampling was a tool to be used as part of a wider surveillance strategy, and impressed the need for local engagement, taking into account the resource positions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.