Food Standards Agency

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Non-Ministerial Department

The Food Standards Agency is responsible for food safety and hygiene across the UK. It is supported by 7 committees.
LinkedIn:Food Standards Agency
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The Food Standards Agency is responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK. It works with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations and its staff work in UK meat plants to check the standards are being met.

The FSA also has responsibility for Labelling Policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for Nutrition Policy in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Responsibility for Nutrition Policy in Wales lies with the Welsh Government.

FSA is a non-ministerial department, supported by 7 agencies and public bodies.

Advisory Non-Departmental Public Bodies

The work of the independent committees and working groups that advise the Food Standards Agency helps ensure that the Agency's advice to consumers is always based on the best and most recent scientific evidence.

Science Council

The FSA Science Council is an independent expert committee, comprising a Chair and seven members. It provides high-level, expert strategic insight, challenge and advice to the FSA's Chief Scientific Adviser and to the Board and executive of the FSA on the FSA's use of science to deliver FSA objectives. Its purpose is to help to ensure that the FSA identifies, sources, integrates and uses the best scientific evidence and expertise from all relevant disciplines to inform and evaluate its work.

Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products & the Environment

COM assesses and advises on mutagenic risks to humans. It advises on important general principles or new scientific discoveries in connection with mutagenic risks, co-ordinates with other bodies concerned with the assessment of mutagenic risks, and makes recommendations for mutagenicity testing. COM is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health & Social Care and the Food Standards Agency.

Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products & the Environment

COT is an independent scientific committee that provides advice to the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health & Social Care, and other government departments and agencies on matters concerning the toxicity of chemicals.

Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food

ACMSF provides advice on questions relating to microbiological issues and food, in response to requests from the Food Standards Agency and also on matters that Committee members themselves identify as important. It consists of independent experts drawn from a wide range of interests. It has produced a number of comprehensive scientific reports, prepared by Working Groups and based on the most up-to-date information available.

Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes

ACNFP is an independent body of scientific experts that advises the Food Standards Agency on any matters relating to novel foods (including genetically modified foods) and novel processes (including food irradiation). The Committee carries out safety assessments of any novel food or process submitted for approval under the EC novel food regulation. Until Apr.2004, the scope of this regulation included all foods produced using genetically modified organisms. However, GM foods are now subject to approval under a separate regulation. Approval of GM foods now involves centralised risk assessments, which are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Nevertheless, the Committee still has a role in advising the Food Standards Agency on GM foods - for example by contributing to EFSA's risk assessments or by advising the Agency on other GM issues.

Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs

ACAF advises on the safety and use of animal feeds and feeding practices, with particular emphasis on protecting human health, and with reference to new technical developments. The decision to set up the Committee was made in the light of concern about the integrity of animal feeds, particularly over the implications of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and the use of genetically modified (GM) feed ingredients,

The decision was announced in the White Paper, 'The Food Standards Agency: A Force for Change', published in Jan.1998 and it implemented the principal recommendation of the report of the Expert Group on Animal Feedingstuffs, published in Jul.1992. ACAF also covers animal health aspects, and a wide range of contemporary issues including advice on the UK negotiating line on new European Community (EC) proposals, animal feed ingredients including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and labelling and information for purchasers of animal feed.

Advisory Committee for Social Sciences

ACSS which replaced the SSRC, will be established by Apr.2018. It is an independent scientific committee that provides advice to the Food Standards Agency about how it gathers and uses social science evidence. It provides expert strategic advice to the FSA on its use of the social sciences including new and emerging methods, processes and systems to interrogate data, to deliver FSA's objectives. Its purpose is to help FSA utilise these sciences and approaches to shape and deliver its strategic objectives and understand its impact.

Other Independent Committees and Working Groups

Cross-SAC Working Group on the framework for risky foods
The cross Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) working group on the framework for risky foods was set up in Mar.2016, with members drawn from four of the FSA SACs.

Veterinary Products Committee

The VPC was established in 1970 to advise on the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines, and to consider reports of suspected adverse reactions to veterinary medicines.

Advisory Committee on Pesticides

The ACP is an independent body which advises Ministers on all matters relating to the control of pesticides. Members provide scientific advice on the safe and effective use of pesticides and other pest control methods.

Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens

An ACDP TSE risk assessment subgroup has been established to provide independent expert advice in this area to the FSA and other departments, following the abolition of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) on Mar.30.2011.

Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment

The COC assesses and gives advice on carcinogenic risk to humans.

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition

The SACN is a UK-wide Advisory Committee set up to replace the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA).

Enforcement Committees

A number of Liaison Groups and Forums work with and advise the FSA on enforcement issues.

UK-wide Food Hygiene Ratings Steering Group

This UK-wide steering group advises the FSA on the development and implementation of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, and Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland.

Local Authority Food Hygiene Rating Scheme User Group

The FHRS User Group is a forum for two-way communication between the FSA and local authorities in England, in relation to the implementation and operation of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Animal Feed Law Enforcement Liaison Group

The AFLELG comprises representatives of UK enforcement bodies and government departments with an interest in animal feed law. It meets twice a year to discuss enforcement related issues, to identify common problems and agree to a consistent and co-ordinated approach to feed law enforcement.

LAEMS Joint Working Group

Details of the Local Authority Enforcement Monitoring System (LAEMS) Joint Working Group, including agendas, papers and minutes of its meetings.

National Agricultural Panel

NAP comprises representatives of UK enforcement bodies and government departments with an interest in animal feed controls.

Closed Committees

Closed Committees

Social Science Research Committee

The SSRC provided advice to the FSA about how it gathers and uses social science evidence. It was established in Apr.2008, and has helped the FSA achieve its strategic goal of strengthening its capacity for social science research. Following the Triennial Review of Six Food Standards Agency Scientific Advisory Committees, the SSRC was dissolved at the start of 2018. Its place has been taken by the Advisory Committee for Social Sciences (ACSS).

General Advisory Committee on Science

GACS provided independent advice on the FSA's governance and use of science. The Committee’s work includes horizon scanning, science governance, developing good practice and informing science priorities.

Associated Organisations

Shield Safety Group

Shield Safety Group is one of the UK's leading providers of Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety services and software, based in Manchester's unique Northern Quarter. Trading since 2003, Shield Safety believes in making safety simple for every business in the UK.

Food Manufacture

Food Manufacture is the UK’s dedicated daily news website for the UK food and drink manufacturing industry.


  • Mar.18.2016: FSA Budget Cuts: What Impact Could They Have On Your Business? As of Nov.2015, after Chancellor George Osborne's autumn spending review, the FSA’s annual budget is frozen at £85.4m until 2020. While this may sound a substantial sum, the figure represents a £6m (7%) cut in the agency’s total spending budget — something which will force the FSA to rethink its expenditure and introduce internal cuts to key services, potentially with widespread consequences to the UK’s food safety. Shield Safety Group.
  • Sept.15.2014: Food Standards Agency budget slashed by £22m. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will have seen £22M cut from its budget from the beginning of the horsemeat scandal to the end of the 2015/16 financial year. Andrew Rhodes, Chief Operating Officer of the FSA, said there would be enough resources to support the creation of a less-than-full-blown #Food Crime Unit (FCU). Rod Addy, Food Manufacture.
  • Jun.06.2010: GM lobby helped draw up crucial report on Britain's food supplies. Email trail shows how biotech group helped watchdog to draw up analysis of GM crops ... and prompted two advisers to quit. A powerful lobbying organisation, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, representing agribusiness interests helped draft a key government report that has been attacked by environmentalists for heavily favouring the arguments of the genetically modified food industry. The revelation comes after the resignation of two govt advisers who have criticised the close relationship between the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the body that oversees the UK's food industry, and the GM lobby. Jamie Doward, The Guardian.