Risking regulatory capture at the UK's Food Standards Agency?

Millstone, Erik and Lang, Tim (2008) Risking regulatory capture at the UK's Food Standards Agency? Lancet, 372 (9633). pp. 94-95. ISSN 0140-6736

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The delivery of safe food and health governance is challenging and contested,1 and knowledge and institutions independent of vested interests are essential for public health. [2], [3] and [4] In the 1990s, new institutional architectures for food and health regulation were created to serve two purposes. First, governments sought to rebuild public confidence in both food safety and policy making in the wake of crises, including salmonella, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, pesticides, dioxins, hormones, and antibiotic residues. Second, in response to commercial pressure to liberalise international trade, which portrayed differences in national food regulations as protectionist barriers, ostensibly scientific bodies were created to provide a uniform international regime. A decade on, how is the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) doing?

The FSA, set up in 2000, despite undoubted progress in some domains, struggles in others. One such tussle is about front-of-pack nutritional labelling. The FSA along with British consumers and their representatives favour a traffic-light system, but food-industry heavyweights prefer a quantitative percentage system with guideline daily amounts. After intense lobbying from the industry, European Commissioner Markos Kyprianou proposed to adopt percentage guidelines, a decision viewed by some as potentially compromising public health.5 The FSA and the European Food Safety Authority have, however, also been criticised for failing to respond robustly about additives and hyperactivity, toxic effects of aspartame, trans fats, and acrylamide.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Erik Millstone
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:23
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2012 15:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20393
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