A UK-wide newspaper advertising campaign starts this weekend for a Chair, Deputy Chair and up to 12 Board Members of the new independent Food Standards Agency, being established under the Government's Food Standards Bill.
The Bill was given a 2nd Reading in the Commons on Tuesday. The hunt is now on for a maximum of 14 people from all parts of the UK and with varying professional backgrounds and expertise to lead the new body, which was a Government manifesto commitment.
The Agency will take a strategic view of food safety across the whole of the food chain, from farm to fork. Its paramount aim will be to protect public health, and to sustain public confidence that this is being done.
It will set high standards of openness, transparency and consultation. It will have the power to publish its advice, including the advice it gives to Government. Its annual budget will be around #125 million, and it will have about 500 staff drawn mainly from existing Government Departments, but established in a new organisation at arm's length from Government.
The Agency will be accountable to the UK Parliament through the Secretary of State for Health and also to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly after devolution.
Health Secretary Frank Dobson said today: The Food Standards Agency will be independent and open. Its job will be to protect the public, to act without fear and favour. Its paramount concern with food will be the people who eat it.
The advertisement which will appear first in this week's Sunday Times states that the Agency will be operating in one of the most sensitive, important and complex areas of public policy.
A Chair, Deputy Chair, and up to 12 Board Members will be appointed. Two members will be appointed by Scottish Ministers, one by the National Assembly for Wales, and one by the relevant Department in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive. Other members will be appointed by the Secretary of State for Health. The Chair and Deputy Chair will be jointly appointed, and the Board will be a single UK board, with UK-wide responsibilities.
The advertisement states that candidates for the position of Chair and Deputy Chair will need track records which demonstrate substantial achievement at a senior level. All members of the Board will need the intellectual capacity and collective breadth of experience to tackles issues involving public safety, scientific argument, public concern, media sensitivity, and impact on industry.
Expertise in food would be valuable, but the Chair, Deputy Chair, and Members will be appointed from a wide range of backgrounds. Integrity and freedom from conflicts of interest will be essential.