The FSA’s Northern Ireland Director, Maria Jennings outlines the ongoing work across the food system following its recently published Strategy 2022-2027 and launch of the inaugural Our Food: An annual review of food standards across the UK.
Food matters, it is integral to who we are and how we live. Food-related inequalities impact on our health and wellbeing, and the FSA’s job is to safeguard public health, and protect the interests of consumers in relation to food. We work closely with colleagues in government, but we act independently and transparently, led by science and evidence. The last two years have been a tough period for the food system which is still recovering from the significant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the disruption caused by the war in Ukraine as well as adapting to life in a post EU exit landscape. The effects of these shocks will continue to have an impact on our food system for many years to come. Encouragingly for UK consumers and our international trading partners, ‘Our Food’ report provides reassurance that the high food standards we enjoy in the UK have been upheld.
‘Food you can trust’ is an outcome we want for everyone. We all have the right to expect that the food we eat will not make us ill, is authentic and properly described, and is being made healthier and more sustainable for the future. The FSA holds a range of statutory powers, and we carry out different roles in the food system including being a regulator, an evidence generator, a policymaker and a watchdog. Our work within the food system protects public health, reduces the economic burden from foodborne disease and supports trade by ensuring Northern Ireland’s strong reputation for safety and authenticity at home and abroad. New technologies, modernised business models and changing consumer behaviours, mean that the FSA needs to think differently about how we deliver our mission.
Our food system is global in nature and an important part of our work is collaborating on food policy across the UK and internationally to ensure that organisations are working together to improve food safety outcomes. The FSA’s evidence can help inform thinking across government and shape the development of policies. We continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive as it shapes a future food strategy for Northern Ireland, reducing inequalities in the health and wellbeing of citizens. Maintaining our strong working relationships across government, industry, and academia has never been more important to us as we face into a rapidly changing food system.
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