Food surveys

Surveys help to protect and inform consumers by alerting the Food Standards Agency to potential food safety issues. Surveys also help to judge the effectiveness of regulation and inform negotiations with the European Commission, monitor trends and assess risks.

The FSA carries out surveys for monitoring, and not for law enforcement. However, the FSA liaises with the enforcement authorities if an urgent food safety problem is found and the survey results are made available to enforcement authorities prior to publication so that appropriate follow up action can be taken.

The FSA normally releases the full details of the food samples analysed in its surveys, including their brand names, together with the results. This ensures that consumers have more information on which to base their choices, surveys are more representative of available brands, analytical procedures are more rigorous and the food industry is more aware of the importance of quality control.

For practical and legal reasons, there will be a small number of well-defined circumstances in which we will not release advice or information. For example, disclosure is contrary to law or information that would not normally be released until the study is completed.

What is surveyed

The FSA carries out surveys in the following areas:

  • chemical contaminants in food
  • chemical contaminants from food contact materials
  • food additives
  • radionuclides in food
  • microbiological contamination of food

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