The FSA ponders the concept of risky foods

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture
Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture

Related tags Fsa chief executive Risk Food standards agency

We are becoming a more risk-averse society. But when it comes to food and drink, some consumers – influenced by their personal beliefs and experiences – see things quite differently.

A vociferous lobby rails against the ‘nanny state’ preventing us from exercising our right to choice in what we eat and drink. Whether it is unpasteurised milk or rare burgers and raw minced beef preparations, there are those who argue it should be down to the individual to decide what they consume.

It is against this background that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) received a report at its Board meeting last month on its approach to ‘risky foods’. The FSA recognises it needs a framework in place to balance the management of risks to public health against the need to facilitate ‘informed consumer choice’. As the report noted, this would ‘mark a significant change’ in the FSA’s approach to the identification and control of risks posed by food.

Coincidentally, at the same meeting, FSA chief executive Catherine Brown reported on recent incidents involving E.coli O157​ infection believed to be associated with the consumption of raw cows’ drinking milk.

Risky foods report

The risky foods report could herald a radical change as the FSA sets its strategy for 2015–20. These changes could see greater emphasis placed on individuals managing their own personal food risks, while ensuring protection for the more vulnerable in society.

However, it leaves open the big question of raw chicken with high levels of campylobacter on sale in our supermarkets. Is this not risky?

New initiatives can be expected from the FSA on how it assesses, manages and communicates risk, since most people don't seem to understand the concept.

Related topics Food Safety

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