The Government has restated its commitment to improving public health by moving nutrition policy for England into the Department of Health from tomorrow, 1 October.
Policies including working with manufacturers to reformulate foods to reduce salt, saturated fat and sugar levels, and reducing portion size, are moving from the Food Standards Agency into the Department of Health. Other policy areas that are transferring include nutritional labelling on foods, calorie information in restaurants, nutrition surveys and scientific advice on nutrition.
The change will ensure nutrition policy is delivered in a coherent and consistent manner. This is an early step towards realising the Government’s vision of drawing together the diverse arrangements for delivering public health and health improvement into an inclusive Public Health Service.
The Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health have been working closely together to ensure that the transfer takes place as quickly as possible and, during this time, staff and partners have been kept informed.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“I am committed to improving the public’s health by providing evidence-based advice to support people in making healthier choices. The transfer of nutrition policy in England into the Department of Health means we can give the general public more consistent information. It will also mean a more co-ordinated and coherent policy-making process; and a more effective potential partnership between Government and external stakeholders.
“The Food Standards Agency will continue to ensure the public’s safety by maintaining its essential and robust regulatory role.
“I’d like to thank the staff and partners of the FSA for their hard work to make sure that this change happens quickly and efficiently so that we can get on with the job in hand – improving public health.”
The Food Standards Agency will retain its clearly defined departmental function focused on its core remit of food safety
The transfer has involved 85 posts. The FSA will remain a non-ministerial department reporting to Parliament through Department of Health Ministers, and to the Devolved Administrations through their Health Ministries.
Notes to editors
1. The following policies in England will be brought into the Department of Health: leading on nutritional labelling and EU negotiations on this; health and nutrition claims, dietetic food and food supplements; calorie information in catering establishments; reformulation to reduce salt, saturated fat and sugar levels in food and reducing portion size (including in catering); nutrition surveys and nutrition research; scientific advice and secretariat to Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).
2. The FSA is governed by a Chair and a board who are appointed jointly by the Secretary of State for Health and the devolved Health Ministers. A Concordat between DH and FSA sets out principles to guide the working relationships and division of responsibilities between the two organisations. It was last revised in September 2007. There is also a concordat with Defra.
3. The FSA is financially accountable to Parliament through its Chief Executive (currently Tim Smith) as its Accounting Officer. The current Chair is Lord Rooker, who was appointed in July 2009.
4. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley indicated his intention, before the election, to move the Food Standards Agency’s nutrition policy work for England to the Department of Health. This was confirmed by the Coalition Government in an announcement on 20 July.
5. From 1 September 2010 three key areas of food policy moved from the FSA to the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). These are:
• policy on food labelling, where this does not relate to food safety or nutrition,
• policy on food composition standards and labelling, where unrelated to food safety and,
• leading on EU negotiations for all non-safety or nutrition aspects of food labelling.
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