Food safety: from plough to plate

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7109.619 (Published 13 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:619

Both public and industry need a food agency with clout

  1. Fiona Godlee, Assistant editor
  1. BMJ

    The crisis over bovine spongiform encephalopathy may have been the most serious scare to hit Britain's food industry, but it was not an isolated event. It followed a stream of other concerns—about food additives, irradiation, salmonella in eggs, Escherichia coli, pesticides, genetically modified tomatoes, and the rising incidence of food poisoning. On each occasion ministers, producers, and retailers have struggled to restore consumer confidence. But their efforts have increasingly misfired, being seen as patronising, misleading, and stemming more from a desire to protect profits than to protect the public's health. Now at last it seems clear that the problem is not simply the public's perception that food is unsafe but real failings in the system of safeguards.

    A fundamental shake up is required, in particular one that separates the conflicting responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, currently charged with both safeguarding the public's health and promoting the interests of Britain's food industry.1 In a report commissioned by the outgoing Conservative government and published in April, Professor Philip James …

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