Blair lines up food chief

March 14, 1997

PHILIP JAMES is set to become to food safety issues what Sir Ron Dearing is to higher education.

Dr James, director of the Rowett Institute, an independent research body devoted to nutrition, has been asked by Labour leader Tony Blair to draw up the remit for the party's proposed Food Standards Agency.

Like Sir Ron, Dr James will not deliver his report until after the election. He also has permission to publish his findings.

Despite the publicity over BSE and E.coli, Britain is not alone with its food safety problems, says Dr James.

"Practically every country in the West is going through the same process. I was talking last weekend to the author of the Danish report on these issues while Norway and Sweden are also changing their procedures," he says.

He would like to see the food watchdog drawing on a variety of expertise instead of the present array of scientific committees.

"There would very likely be a role for independent academic expertise and we should also recognise the expertise built up by regulatory bodies. But we must also interact with the producer groups, who are feeling rather bruised at the moment, in order to obtain a coherent all-round view of the issues".

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