Ms Jowell was speaking after a meeting of key FSA stakeholders which she hosted at the Department of Health together with her colleague Jeff Rooker, Minister for Food Safety at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. It was attended by representatives from health and academic bodies, consumer groups and industry. One of the main issues under consideration was the place of nutrition in the new Agency.
Ms Jowell said:
"Food safety is one of the Government's top priorities. In setting up the Food Standards Agency we are determined that it should command people's confidence from the outset. It is vital that all parties - Government, health professionals, academics, consumers and the industry - work together to ensure that the FSA is effective, efficient and independent.
"Our overriding agenda must be to ensure that not only is food as safe as it possibly can be but that is seen to be so. To achieve this it is crucial to secure the co-operation of all the stakeholder groups.
"Nutrition is a complex matter on which there is a variety of views. That is why we felt it necessary to hold a meeting to enable us to clarify the issues and consider how these might be addressed in the White Paper. A broad consensus is not only desirable, but necessary, if the FSA is to achieve its full potential.
"Today's lively, wide-ranging and constructive debate marks an important milestone en route to setting up the FSA, which will be in charge of many areas of nutrition as part of its overall responsibility for food safety."
Jeff Rooker, Minister for Food Safety said:
"The new Food Standards Agency will work for the good of every woman, man and child in Britain. It is vital that we consult all those interested and involved about their views. Delivering food safety is very different to giving advice on nutrition. But they are both important to our health and wellbeing.
"Our extra consultation today shows how determined we are to listen to all opinions before we make up our minds. That way we will be better able to deliver an independent, open and publicly accountable agency."