Following speculation last week that the Food Standards Agency would be axed, the government has today announced the industry body will continue running, but without its responsibilities for nutrition and labelling.
The FSA will be given a renewed focus on food safety issues, while the Department of Health (DoH) will now be responsible for nutrition policy in England.
This means all policies relating to calorie labelling on restaurant menus, saturated fat, salt and sugar levels in food and portion sizing, will now fall under the jurisdiction of the DoH.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will also share some of the FSA’s responsibilities, such as food composition policies, Country of Origin labelling and all other non-safety-related food labelling.
Scores on the Doors
The FSA will however retain responsibility for the roll out of the Scores on the Doors hygiene rating system.
Lord Rooker, chair of the FSA, said: “Food safety and hygiene have always been at the heart of what the Agency does. They are our top priorities in protecting the interests of consumers.”
John Dyson, the British Hospitality Association's food and technical affairs adviser, said: “The transfer of nutritional functions to the Department of Health should ensure a more unified approach to the fight against obesity and we look forward to working with the Department on this critical issue.
"However we have concerns about the lack of similar restructuring in the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which could potentially result in increased costs for businesses which trade across the United Kingdom."
The government believes the reorganisation will contribute to its targets to improve efficiency as well as the health of the British population.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra, said: “It makes perfect sense to bring policy on food origin and associated labelling to Defra to sit with wider food policy. These changes will enable the FSA to focus on food safety and it is right that this should stay in the hands of an independent body.”
In a separate government change announced today, the responsibility for the Licensing Act 2003 has reverted back from the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, to the Home Office – except in relation to regulated entertainment, such as live music.
Home Secretary Theresa May is also currently leading a “complete review” of the Licensing Act and is considering introducing a late night levy on premises.