Food: Safety

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help improve food safety.

Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Food safety policy is the responsibility of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a non-Ministerial Government Department, which works to protect public health and consumers' wider interests in food. The FSA is concerned with the safety of food right along the food supply chain, from when it is produced, to when it is served on the plate. As the national authority responsible for food safety, we set the regulations that food businesses are obliged to follow, and work with local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure those regulations are enforced.

The FSA has delivered a robust regulatory regime that is responsive, scientifically-based and able to provide a high level of assurance for consumers in the food they eat. The FSA is working closely with consumers, local government and industry stakeholders, on modernising the regulatory regime so that it is more risk-based, data-driven and fit-for-purpose.

For example, the FSA has worked closely with industry on reducing Campylobacter contamination over a number of years. This has seen the highest contamination levels of Campylobacter fall from an average of 19% in 2014/15 to 5% in 2016/17 in surveys of whole, UK produced chicken undertaken at retail level. Latest levels according to major retailers’ data show an average of 3.1% for October-December 2018.

As part of the FSA’s preparations for EU Exit and regulatory reform, the FSA is heavily investing in its scientific capability and capacity, strengthening its approach to surveillance and horizon scanning, and ensuring a cost-effective national and coordinated approach to food crime.

The FSA is currently reviewing its strategy, making sure that the Department can respond to both existing and emerging challenges, focusing on key issues and societal developments, such as allergens, so that consumers can continue to enjoy food they can trust.

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