Food Standards Agency
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Summary of discussions at FSA Board meeting 21 June 2017

At its open meeting yesterday, the Food Standards Agency Board discussed principles for its risk management of chemical contaminants; the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015; and developing the FSA’s approach to identifying risks and issues across the food system.

The Board considered the Agency’s approach to managing chemical contaminant risks in food. In its discussions the Board noted the need to work with the science institutes, food industry and consumers as well as sharing associated data with others in this ever-changing field.  Chemical contaminant risks and the management of these can materially affect consumer food choices.  The Board confirmed its role in reaching decisions or developing advice where risks changed, and in relation to communications to make consumers aware of contaminant risks. The Board agreed to return to the issue in due course, when it could take into account the outputs of other work, including that of the FSA’s Science Council.

The Board discussed the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which has been introduced in Wales by the Welsh Government to improve social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing. Although the FSA is not a statutory listed public body under the Act and is not therefore obliged to meet the legislation, the department acts on behalf of Ministers in Wales and the Board endorsed the importance of seeking to align with the aims of the legislation. Through its key priority of transforming the regulatory landscape of food, the FSA aims to develop a sustainable, fit for purpose and agile system that that all can have confidence in. Development of this system is aligned to some of the goals set out in the Act. The Board heard further about the Agency’s plans to integrate this approach into its open policy making as well as considering its impact on the department as an employer.  

The Board then discussed how to shape  the Agency’s developing approach to identifying risks and issues across the food system. This is a medium term design and delivery issue for the FSA. The Board agreed that  developing this capability is essential, and endorsed the central role the FSA Science Council will have in providing strategic, expert insight in this area.  The Science Council was already considering three key inputs: horizon scanning and foresight in relation to food safety for UK consumers; good practice in establishing risk and certainty; and the future science capacity and capability the FSA needed to deliver its remit.   The Board endorsed these inputs, as well as wanting to ensure that the FSA is making best use of industry and international expertise.  The Board’s comments and direction would shape the development of a proposed approach, which would return to the Board for approval.

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee Colm McKenna updated the Board on its last meeting.  The Board also heard updates from the Welsh Food Advisory Committee and the Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee.  These updates included information on how the outputs of the recent Food & You survey are being used in Wales and Northern Ireland to inform the FSA’s work in those countries.

The papers discussed are available on our website and a video on demand recording of the meeting will be available on the FSA’s website on Friday 23 June.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the FSA Board will be on 20 September 2017 in Belfast.

You can register to attend in person or online. As places may be limited, please wait until you receive an official confirmation of your registration before making arrangements to attend. If you need help registering, or have any queries, please contact tel: 020 8481 3302.


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