Speaking in London today Baroness Hayman said:
'The UK has an excellent record of consumer safety in relation to residues of veterinary medicines and pesticides and I am grateful to both the AGVR and the WPPR for their contributions to this achievement. With the creation of the Food Standards Agency two new Committees will be established, independent of Government. The Committees will have a strong mix of consumer, scientific and food industry expertise amongst their members. We will shortly be advertising for candidates with a view to the new Committees being in place before the end of the year. The new Committees will play a vital role in ensuring the highest standards of consumer protection.'
The Advisory Group on Veterinary Residues (AGVR) and the Working Party on Pesticide Residues (WPPR) currently oversee the Government's annual veterinary and pesticide residues surveillance programmes. They advise devolved administration Ministers as well as UK Government Ministers. Under the surveillance programmes thousands of tests are carried out on samples of UK produced and imported food each year, with costs running into millions of pounds.
The results of the veterinary residues surveillance programme are published in the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) Annual Report of Veterinary Residues Surveillance and are updated each quarter in the VMD's MAVIS newsletter. The report covering samples taken during the 1998 calendar year was published in July 1999.
The new Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC) and Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) will advise the Chief Executives of VMD and PSD and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on the formulation of the residue surveillance programmes and the results arising from them. They will also be responsible for preparing annual reports on residues surveillance which will be presented to Ministers. The Chairs and members will be appointed by Ministers in consultation with the Chairman of the FSA.
In addition to the Chair, the VRC will have twelve members and the PRC eight members. Members will be appointed for their knowledge in particular areas, forming a strong mix of consumer, scientific and food industry expertise. One member of each of the new Committees will have specific responsibility for food safety and the FSA will provide nominations for these posts. Advisors from the FSA, VMD and PSD, other Government departments and the devolved administrations will also attend the PRC and VRC meetings.