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The FSA and their so-called ‘Risky foods’

The FSA and their so-called ‘Risky foods’

The FSA’s apparent change of heart on raw drinking milk over the summer earlier this year seemed like a breeze of fresh air, a more rational and reasonable approach to the management of food safety risks looked to be in the making. It now seems that a return to historical paranoia is the order of the day.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently invented a new category of so-called ‘risky food’. What this new category is for? If the foods had undue risk then why has the FSA not chosen to ban them?

The consumption of almost all foods involves a safety risk. We already have a very effective system for managing risk in the foods we eat – it’s called HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points which all food producers are legally required to implement.

HACCP is long established, tried and tested, and when rigorously applied and conscientiously used it is an effective way of managing risk. The consumer would be better served by an FSA that directs its attention to ensuring that HACCP is so used throughout the production of our food rather than inventing a new category of so-called ‘risky food’.

The FSA’s approach is laden with a set of preconceived notions about what foods we should be allowed to eat. It is seriously flawed in being arbitrary, unhelpful and gratuitously damaging to the interests of artisan and small-scale food producers.

Labeling many traditional foods as ones to be avoided is senseless; in many cases they form a central part of a country’s traditional cultural food heritage, and there is no need to blacklist them as ‘risky foods’. However, we have a lot of risky foods in mind which will be great to blacklist: GMOs corn, antibiotics-fed chickens, processed foods, carbonated over sugary soda, to name but a few, belong to them.

The choice of Risky Foods by the FSA seems entirely random, with many foods which contain a much higher degree of risk not being labeled, and other foods which have been produced and eaten for hundreds of years labeled “risky”. We believe that small-scale, artisan production following full Food Safety protocols with a very short supply chain carries far less risk than the anonymous bulk supply chain which led to horse meat entering the food chain, and 3000 ecoli infections from industrially grown beansprouts to name but two.
Shane Holland, Board member Slow Food UK.

For more information please read:  Slow Food London article and the official FSA report on so-called ‘Risky Food’.

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