Watchdog will have healthy teeth

October 24, 1997

THE government's proposed Food Standards Agency is likely to be given a major role in nutrition, including responsibility for monitoring the nutritional content of food and defining a healthy diet.

The white paper on the agency is not expected until November, but ministers have indicated that they plan to include aspects of nutrition, as well as food safety.

This is despite objections from some in the farming and food industry, and a few academics, who fear inclusion of nutrition may dilute the agency's effectiveness in ensuring hygiene, protecting against outbreaks such as E.coli and BSE infection and restoring public confidence in food safety.

Philip James, director of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen and author of the report on the Food Standards Agency for the Labour party before the election, included nutrition in his vision for the agency.

However, there has been pressure to narrow the agency's remit. Of the 630 responses to the James report, 46 wanted nutrition excluded.

John Pattison, vice provost of University College London and chairman of the government's spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee, said: "There is a danger of the agency taking on too much if it is not careful."

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