In her foreword to the accounts, FSA Chairman, Heather Hancock talks about how EU Exit has dominated the FSA Board agenda and explains that when the UK leaves the EU, the FSA has been determined that food would be no less safe, consumers would be no less protected, and our commitment to an open and transparent, science and evidence based regulatory system would be unwavering. She writes:
'By March 2019, intense design and implementation work across the whole FSA, steered by the Board, had delivered a complete and whole regulatory regime ready for operation outside the EU functions and systems we currently rely upon. This is an outstanding achievement by our officials, working closely with colleagues across Governments and industry. Once we operate this new system for real, there will inevitably be fine tuning required. But we have built the most open and transparent risk analysis approach that exists globally, and we have seized the chance to go further, faster on essential parts of the regulatory regime. This is a good starting point to deliver FSA success outside the EU frameworks.'
She also mentions the FSA progress with modernising the food regulation system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and that one of the key achievements has introducing a simple, easy to use digital system to register a food business with a local authority.
Heather Hancock also spells out the importance of allergen information:
‘Our campaign #easytoASK, which we launched last autumn, aims to help this group be more confident about asking for allergen information when eating out or ordering in. We are encouraging businesses to get better at offering accurate allergen information, and to be proactive in making their younger customers feel comfortable to ask for it. Allergens and intolerances are an increasingly significant part of the FSA’s focus, and we plan a comprehensive programme on food hypersensitivity in the coming year.'
In his statement, Jason Feeney, who was our Chief Executive for the reporting period, highlights that EU Exit has impacts on every part of the organisation. He writes:
‘It has required a major reorganisation to reflect our new responsibilities and a significant programme of recruitment to strengthen our science, policy, food crime and frontline capability. In preparation, for EU Exit, we recruited over 40 independent external scientists for our advisory committees, and more than 100 new internal appointments.
‘We have designed and developed a new food risk analysis system to enable us to deliver our post-exit remit. Our processes and procedures have been redesigned to improve how we handle risk from science-based assessment to our risk management policy response. This new approach will revitalise and re-enforce our science and evidenced based approach and set new standards of transparency.’
And he also talks about our influence and leadership on key international standards and delivery models has further increased in the last year and is acknowledged and welcomed by our key partners.
Rod Ainsworth assumed responsibility as Interim Accounting Officer and Acting Chief Executive on 6 July 2019, following Jason Feeney stepping down from the Chief Executive role.