Professor Hugh Pennington, who wrote a report following the 2005 E. coli outbreak in South Wales which claimed the life of five-year-old Mason Jones, said the plan to abolish the U.K. Food Standards Agency had “absolutely no merit” and “could lead to more tragedies.”
Wales Online reports the U.K. Department for Health yesterday said no final decision had been taken about the fate of the FSA, but admitted it was “under review” along with other bodies.
Professor Pennington urged the Welsh Assembly to “think very, very hard” about creating their own FSA in Wales should the current one be abolished and said there was no need to follow England’s example.
There is confusion today over what will happen in Wales if the FSA is abolished.
It has been reported that in England, the FSA’s responsibilities would be taken on jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – whose remit does not cover Wales.
It also comes as the Welsh Assembly is in the midst of taking forward the actions of the Pennington Report.
The issue could prove embarrassing for the Welsh Conservatives, who last week called for more powers for the FSA, while their London counterparts have confirmed they are considering its future.
Professor Pennington said,
“What is being proposed seems to be going back to what we had before and that would be a significant step backwards. I see no merit in it whatsoever. E.coli hasn’t gone, and it’s likely to cause problems again in the future if you don’t get the system of regulation and inspection right. We know there are a minority of food companies out there who flout the rules and present a danger to the public. They need to be found and stamped on.”
The mother of five-year-old Mason Jones, who died after contracting E. coli in the 2005 outbreak in South Wales, said abolishing the FSA would be a “major, major blow to Wales. If the FSA is abolished, who is going to oversee Wales’ local authorities? It is quite shocking. It would be a major, major setback for all that we have tried to achieve with the Pennington report. It would be absolutely awful.”