There is a rumour published in The Observer today ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/11/andrew-lansley-jobs-purge-nhs ) that Andrew Lansley, our new Minister for Health, is going to scrap the Food Standards Agency.
I sincerely hope this isn’t true. If it is, I will consider it to be a terrible decision.
The Food Standard Agency was established to keep those responsible for keeping food safety independent from those trying to promote and protect the food industry as a whole. It was not established for ideological reasons, but because of a long line of disasters in food safety.
And it is independent. All of its recommendations to ministers are published, and are in the public domain. Its has playing a key role in forcing down salt in processed food.
Obesity is an enormous problem in the western world, and is getting worse. At the most callous level, there are billions of pounds a year to be saved in public health if we can improve the nations diet.
The last Conservative government deregulated what agricultural feed manufacturers could feed cattle. In no time at all, we were feeding cows, (who are natural herbivores, lest we forget) the brains of other cows. Which resulted in Mad Cow Disease. Bad for public health, obviously, but also a disaster for the food industry.
The government will claim this is all about cutting back on quangos and saving money. I wonder. If the Food Standards Agency is abolished, I wonder how long it will be before Genetically Modified crops are in our fields.