Over the next five years, the FSA said its focus would remain on ensuring products were safe, but was developing an emphasis on making food healthy and more sustainable in response to a change in consumer priorities – a growing public concern about health and climate change.
Chairman Susan Jebb said the plan reelected the regulator’s greater responsibilities in a post-Brexit world, which represented both a challenge and an opportunity.
“There is a new commitment to food that is healthier and more sustainable and there are big challenges to reduce the burden of avoidable poor health,” she added. “Long-term health and environmental sustainability top the list of priorities for consumers.
“Two decades on, the FSA has developed a strong reputation for its work to ensure food is safe. This must continue, but now is the right time for us to consider how we can contribute to wider government efforts to reshape the food system to tackle diet-related disease and climate change.
More than three in five people polled by the FSA for its most recent consumer insights tracking survey said they felt concerned about the impact of food production on the environment, while more than half reported concern about the healthiness of their personal diet.
“Our five-year plan will enable us to work with partners and other stakeholders in the food system to play a full and active part in supporting the change that is needed, while continuing to uphold the interests of consumers so we can all enjoy food we can trust,” Jebb continued.
The FSA would work closely with the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and signalled it was also interested in working with the Department of Education to ensure food standards in schools were being met.
Commenting on the plans, Sue Davies – Which? Head of consumer protection and food policy – said: “Which? welcomes the Food Standards Agency's increased focus on supporting consumers to make healthier and more sustainable choices, alongside its work on food safety and wider food standards.
“At a time when the food system is facing unprecedented challenges and pressures, consumers need a strong, independent and consumer-focused Food Standards Agency that will be able to demonstrate that it will always put consumer interests first.”