UK Food Standards Agency survives; new focus should help get the science right; piping hot is not a standard

‘You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.’

That’s what eventual U.S. President Richard Nixon said to the press after losing the election for Governor of California in 1962 (he became President in 1968).

“I leave you gentleman now and you will write it. You will interpret it. That’s your right. But as I leave you I want you to know — just think how much you’re going to be missing. You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference and it will be one in which I have welcomed the opportunity to test wits with you.”

And just like Nixon, the U.K. Food Standards Agency has come back from the political backwaters with, what the government calls, “a renewed focus on food safety.”

The Government recognizes 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.

This is tremendous news for food safety types as it was clear the Agency was being distracted by trying to be everything to everybody. Issues surrounding salt, fat, genetic engineering, labeling and others are largely lifestyle choices – they are not food safety issues, the things that make people barf.

Although the U.K. Department of Health needs new communications types when they begin a press release with,

“Public confidence in food safety issues will be protected, as the Government confirmed its intention to retain the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with a renewed focus on food safety.”

Public confidence is earned, not protected by a bureaucratic shuffling of the chairs.

Now that FSA is clearly focused on food safety, can they get rid of their nonsensical cooking temperature advice – piping hot – and focus on some evidence that will lead to fewer people barfing.

Otherwise, like Nixon, you’ll be back, only to get kicked around.