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Food is a public health issue

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7129.411k (Published 07 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:411

Professor Philip James has been the driving force behind Britain's Food Standards Agency, which is due to be set up in 1999. But, as he tells Caroline White, the battle to put food on the public health agenda is far from over Professor Philip James has long been convinced that something “very dramatic and different” had to be done to strengthen the weak links in the food chain. He submitted a report to the British government in May and is delighted that so many of his recommendations have found their way intact into last month's white paper on the Food Standards Agency in spite of persistent lobbying from sectors in both the food industry and the medical establishment (17 January, p 171).

He feels that the whole tenor of the white paper is absolutely in keeping with what is required—that there needs to be a major overhaul of food standards “from plough to plate,” which would prioritise the interests of consumers and preclude the agency from becoming “a disaster agency just explaining the cock ups.”

He had wanted, however, to give the Food Standards Agency clout by obliging other bodies to come through the agency to set the agenda. So he is disappointed that responsibility for the food safety evaluation of pesticides and …

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