July 20, 2010
Some enlightenment on the vexed future of the Food Standards Agency has just come my way. It will stay, but be shorn of many of its powers. Here’s today’s ministerial statement on the subject:
Food Standards Agency in England. The Government recognises the important role of the Food Standards Agency in England, which will continue to be responsible for food safety. The Food Standards Agency will remain a non-ministerial department reporting to Parliament through Health ministers.
In England, nutrition policy will become a responsibility of the Secretary of State for Health. Food labelling and food composition policy, where not related to food safety, will become a responsibility of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In effect, these changes will disembowel the FSA. Expect substantial cuts in its £135m annual budget and its 2,000-strong staff.
August 17, 2009
Environment secretary Hilary Benn’s recent fulmination against the Bogof and discounted supermarket lines – in the course of announcing a new government food security strategy – spells trouble ahead for the marketing industry.
What matters is less the specifics of his proposals than the tone in which they are delivered. Benn is saying that certain time-honoured elements of the marketer’s toolbox are no longer acceptable, because they promote an attitude of profligacy among consumers. Indeed, in a broader sense, he comes close to condemning the consumer society itself. It’s clear that a war on waste, and the ministers to it – brand-owners, supermarkets and agencies – is going to prove an attractive option for government policy strategists of the future, as food grows more expensive and the need to conserve it ever more pressing.
For more on this, see my column in the magazine.