Food Law News - UK - 2005

FSA News Item (2005/0581), 19 May 2005

CONTAMINANTS - FSA sets up incidents taskforce to manage and reduce incidents of food contamination

The Food Standards Agency has set up an incidents task force to strengthen existing controls in the food chain in order to reduce the possibility of future contamination incidents occurring such as those involving Para Red and Sudan I, and to improve the management of such incidents where they do occur.

The task force will be chaired by the Agency's Chief Executive, Dr Jon Bell, and will include senior representatives from the food industry, enforcement authorities and consumer organisations as well as two independent members. (See below for list of organisations invited to participate)

Julia Unwin, Acting Chair of the FSA said: 'In the light of recent Sudan I and Para Red food withdrawals we need to find practical ways of reducing the number of incidents of food contamination. When they do occur, we need quick, effective and appropriate action from all those involved.

'The task force will help us achieve the overall objectives in our strategic plan to work with industry to reduce high and medium risk incidents by 25%.'

The task force will:

The task force, which will enable the Agency and other partners to learn quick lessons, is due to report back to the Board on progress in the autumn and will hold its first meeting next month.

The issue of food contamination of illegal dyes has recently been discussed by the European Commission. It has asked for a risk assessment of dyes such as Sudan I and Para Red to be conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A group of countries, co-ordinated by the UK , is looking at introducing uniform testing methodology to ensure consistent testing across Europe . In the meantime the Agency has advised food businesses on an interim standardised approach.

Organisations invited to participate are: Association of British Insurers, British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, British Hospitality Association, Which?, National Consumer Council, Local Authorities' Co-ordinators Of Regulatory Services, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the National Farmers Union.

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