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12293087460?profile=RESIZE_584xThe last decade has witnessed significant advances in analytical technologies with the capabilities to support food integrity and authenticity testing within the rapidly evolving food industry. Devices that allow diagnostic tests to be performed at or near the point of need, often termed Point-of-contact (POC), represent a growing area within the food sector with the potential to provide real-time monitoring of input materials and production process. POC devices can range from handheld spectroscopic devices such as Raman and FT-IR instruments to desktop portable systems inclusive of compact mass spectrometry, NMR and next generation sequencing (NGS) systems.

The National Measurement Laboratory at LGC are leading on an UK Food Standards Agency funded project investigating the utility and potential of POC technologies in the food sector and have devised this questionnaire to support the evidence building phase of the project. The questionnaire is targeted at individuals involved in the food supply and allied sectors, including primary production, supply, manufacturing and enforcement/regulations.
Your participation in this questionnaire will directly help inform the direction of the project and contribute to guidance within the sector:
The questionnaire should only take around 15 minutes to complete - please do not provide any information that could be used to identify you.
We would be very grateful if you could complete the questionnaire by 4 December 2023.
Thank you for participating in this questionnaire.

UK National Measurement Laboratory at LGC

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12289129058?profile=RESIZE_710xKey findings for 2022
2022 was a deeply challenging year for consumers. Food prices rose at a faster rate than inflation for much of the year and were accompanied by sharp increases in other household expenses, adding to the strain on people’s finances. Overall spending on in-home food reduced by 6.9% in 2022 compared to 2021. Oils and spreads, dairy and alternatives, and fish, eggs, meat and other proteins experienced faster price rises than other Eatwell Guide food groups - all of them essential elements in many people’s diets. FSA and FSS focus group research showed people across a wide range of income brackets were making compromises such as swapping out premium brands for budget ranges or eating out less in a bid to cut costs.

A record number of households – one in five across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – were classified as food insecure in 2022, meaning that their diet and/or food intake had been limited in some way due to their financial or personal circumstances. Similar evidence of increased food insecurity can be seen in Scottish data. A minority of people across the UK also reported cutting corners on food preparation and hygiene, including reducing their use of fridges and freezers or reducing the length of time they cooked their food, to reduce energy bills.

The global food system had to adapt to abrupt shifts in trading patterns as traditional supply lines were disrupted for some commodities. Though the available data from border checks does not indicate any shift in the safety of goods arriving from outside the EU, the UK has increased the number of high-risk foods now subject to enhanced checks at the border, partly in response to concerns about pesticide residues and other toxins in products from certain countries. As EU imports are not currently checked, we cannot comment authoritatively on the safety of goods arriving from the EU.

As we develop new trading partnerships, FSA and FSS will continue to advise government on whether new free trade agreements (FTAs) uphold statutory food safety protections. To support the public’s interest in understanding the wider production values of imported food, FSA and FSS are also exploring how to address the lack of robust, international data on issues such as animal welfare and environmental and ethical production standards.

Although food businesses have also experienced sharp rises in their costs, the latest inspection data suggests this has not translated into any detectable reduction in compliance with food hygiene standards. Based on the latest inspection data as at the end of 2022, the vast majority of food businesses had met food hygiene standards at the point when they were last inspected.

Meanwhile the number of local authority inspections carried out returned to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels in 2022. This is an important milestone, but it should be noted there were still approximately 39,500 unrated businesses at the end of 2022 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Adequate resourcing is vital for ensuring food hygiene rules are upheld, but the FSA’s analysis of local authority staffing shows there are approximately 14% fewer food safety posts being funded across England, Wales and Northern Ireland compared to a decade ago – and even where these posts do exist, over 13% are vacant.

The situation in Scotland is more pronounced, where there are 25% fewer food safety posts than in 2016. There have also been reductions in food standards and food law officer posts across the UK, further challenging the ability of local authorities to carry out essential checks on food authenticity, composition and information standards. In 2022, both FSA and FSS had to take additional measures to address the ongoing resourcing challenges being faced by the veterinary profession – particularly in the recruitment of Official Veterinarians (OVs).

Analysis of reported food incidents and foodborne disease outbreaks, the results of national sampling programmes delivered by FSA, FSS and Defra, and the available intelligence on food crime do not suggest there has been any significant change in food safety and authenticity standards during 2022. However, we are concerned about ongoing breaches in food composition labelling in relation to allergens. To address this, further collaboration with local
authorities and food businesses will be required. 

Read full report.

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12245499060?profile=RESIZE_710xThe UK Food Standards Agency has published a report that has developed a Cost of Food Crime (CoFC) model, which identifies and measures the economic and social cost of food crime.

Cost of Food Crime to the UK

  • The total cost of food crime on the UK is estimated to be between £410 million and £1.96 billion per year.
  • This is equivalent to between 0.07% and 0.33% of the UK food industry turnover each year (BEIS, 2021).
  • The estimated value of fraudulent food and drink in the UK is between £296 million and £1.48 billion per year (discussed in Section 2.4 CoFC).
  • The range in the estimated total cost of food crime represents the sensitivity to the volume of criminal activity, from crimes reported to estimates of total crimes (including unreported activity). Further research is required to develop the quality of data in order to narrow the range with confidence. 

The full report can be accessed here.

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FSA 3-year Corporate Plan Published

12144178281?profile=RESIZE_400xThe UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a 3-year corporate plan, which explains how their 5-year strategy will be turned into concrete actions.

In the next 3 years FSA want to:

  • Maintain the current high levels of trust and confidence in the food system and FSA. 
  • Maintain food standards, so that food is safe and what it says it is, and consumers can continue to have confidence in their food 
  • grow our contribution to and influence on food that is healthier and more sustainable, building on the work we have started since we published our strategy 

Read the Executive Summary and the full Corporate Plan.

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New Food Crime Video by the NFCU

The Food Standards Agency's National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) has published a video on the types of food crime you might come across and how to report it.

The NFCU and partners tackle food crime every day to make sure food is safe to eat and is what it says it is.

NFCU colleagues work closely with the food industry to ensure that businesses are well-informed and prepared so they know how to spot food crime and stop it.

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FSA updates areas of research interest

10835253086?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Standards Agency (FSA) has updated its areas of research interest (ARI) to include a focus on food that is healthier and more sustainable.

FSA has added four new ARI that reflect the updated priorities in their 2022-2027 strategy: that food is safe; is what it says it is; and is healthier and more sustainable. The update includes revising the overarching research themes and the addition of four new ARI. The updated ARIs are:

Research priority one: Assuring food and feed safety and standards

  1. What is the impact of chemical hazards (including nanomaterials and microplastics) in food and how can we reduce it?
  2. What are the impacts of foodborne pathogens and how can we reduce them?  
  3. What is the impact of food hypersensitivity (including allergies and intolerance) and how can we reduce it? 
  4. What is the impact of crime, including food fraud, on the UK food supply chain, and how can we reduce it? 
  5. What are the differences in food production systems and food standards globally and how does this impact on trade and the food available to UK consumers?  
  6. What is the impact and risk of novel and non-traditional foods, additives, and processes on the food system, including on consumer confidence?  

Research priority two: Understanding consumers and our wider society

  1. How do consumers view and understand the food system, and balance their choices against multiple competing factors (including safety and standards, nutrition and health, choice, availability, affordability, sustainability, and welfare)?  
  2. What role does consumer and Food Business Operator behaviour and perception play in ensuring food safety and standards?  
  3. What impact do food insecurity and other disparities have on the consumer and the food system?  

Research priority three: Adapting to the food and feed system of the future

  1. What are the risks and opportunities presented by shifts and disruptions in the food system, including new and emerging technologies, and how should we regulate food in the future? 
  2. How can the FSA continue to be an innovative and effective regulator when developing and implementing food regulations? 

Research priority four: Addressing global grand challenges 

  1. How can the FSA improve the evidence base concerning Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and food?  
  2. What are the impacts of climate change, including society’s efforts to mitigate it and adapt to it, on the food system? 
  3. How can we support the necessary transition to more healthy and sustainable diets, and what will be the impact on the UK food system, including food security, safety and standards?
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10565846492?profile=RESIZE_584xThe FSA has shared its first science newsletter.

These quarterly newsletters will update you on FSA funding opportunities, latest research publications, areas of research interest, and will highlight FSA science job vacancies and peer reviewer opportunities.  

In this first issue, FSA highlight the recent launch of the new FSA 5-year strategy and the new Food Safety Research Network, and the publication of household food insecurity reports


FSA 5-year Strategy Launch
We recently published our strategy for improving food over the next five years and recommitted to our mission of food you can trust.

The five-year strategy reflects the FSA’s greater responsibilities now that the UK is outside of the EU and takes into account growing public concern about health and climate change. Read our full FSA strategy 2022 to 2027: Food you can trust.

FSA research shows growing concern around the cost of food

Research published by the Food Standards Agency today shows the cost of food is a future major worry for three out of four of people in the UK.

FSA announces appointment of two fellowships to the PATH-SAFE programme
We're delighted to announce the appointment of two fellowships to the Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and the Environment programme (PATH-SAFE) team. Data Fellow Professor David Aanensen and Science Fellow Dr Ed Haynes will play a key role in driving forward our scientific innovation. You can read our blog post Making food safer with two PATH-SAFE fellowships.

Food Standards Agency takes next step to regulate CBD market
FSA takes next step to regulate CBD market
We have confirmed the list of CBD products that are now one step closer towards being authorised. The CBD Public List shows which products have a credible application for authorisation with the FSA.

Food Safety Network

We’re pleased to launch a new Food Safety Research Network, co-funding with UKRI-BBSRC. Hosted by The Quadram Institute, the network will help tackle the UK’s annual 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness by bringing together experts from government, industry and academic to address issues of food safety. 

FSA Scientific Advisory Committees welcome twelve new members

The Chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Professor Susan Jebb has announced the appointment of 12 new independent experts as members of the FSA’s Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs)

Speak Up For Allergies Campaign
We have launched the next phase of the Speak Up For Allergies campaign. The campaign encourages young people to support friends with allergies when eating in restaurants and the important role of front of house staff to provide allergen information effectively.

Improving School Food Standards
Following the publication of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, our Chair, Susan Jebb, welcomes plans for a pilot aimed at improving school food standards.


Recent Publications

We collaborate with a range of stakeholders on research projects to ensure our work is underpinned by the latest science and evidence. Our publications are available on our Research and Evidence pages


If you would like to receive this newsletter directly or in an alternative format, or if you would like to chat about any of the information provided within this newsletter, FSA would be happy to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing Science.Communications@food.gov.uk.


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10449250084?profile=RESIZE_584xThe FSA has issued a final call for evidence linking products to applications on the public list. The CBD public list shows which products have a credible application for authorisation with the FSA.

Businesses have until 26 May 2022 to submit evidence that their products are linked to a credible application and were on the market before February 2020.

CBD Public List: Register of CBD products linked to novel food applications

Read full article.

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In response to many questions posted in the chat of the Webinar on the Global Honey Supply Chain that took place on 19 January 2022, the page on the Government Chemist website has been updated with work in progress on honey authenticity:

"This webinar and the consequent e-seminar is part of a suite of activities Defra, FSA, FSS and the Government Chemist are jointly working on to address some of the underpinning scientific issues that have emerged on the subject of honey testing and a number of workstreams are in progress.

Two further e-seminars, which will assist in disseminating information on honey authenticity testing, are in production. These cover using NMR testing for the determination of exogenous sugars in honey and best practice in establishing and curating databases for food authenticity. Work is also underway to develop guidance on applying a weight of evidence approach for food authenticity analysis, to pilot accreditation of non-targeted authenticity testing methods, to improve consistency and confidence in testing and reporting and to explore a data trust framework to share information on the honey supply chain and testing between interested communities. This will be followed by activity to standardise a protocol for the collection of authentic honey samples and to establish a framework for the scrutiny of authenticity databases. We are collaborating with key stakeholders on all these initiatives to secure the best outcome for all.

FSA’s blog on the complexities of honey authenticity, includes links to the recently published Government Chemist independent review of methods for honey authenticity testing and of the analytical reports underpinning recent allegations of honey fraud."

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The cost of food crime - Phase 1 Report

9390356670?profile=RESIZE_584xThis FSA project develops a conceptual framework for modelling and capturing the full range of costs attributed to food crime on UK society, along with an assessment of the availability of data that would be necessary to produce this model.

An economic framework was developed for estimating the economic cost of food crime which uses:

  1. Victim costs: Direct economic losses suffered by crime victims, including medical care costs and lost earnings.
  2. Criminal justice system costs: Costs of anti-food crime activities, legal and adjudication services, and corrections programs including incarceration.
  3. Crime career costs: Opportunity costs associated with the criminal’s choice to engage in illegal rather than legal and productive activities.
  4. Intangible costs: Indirect losses suffered by crime victims, including pain and suffering, decreased quality of life, and psychological distress.
  5. Market costs: Loss of profits for genuine firms.

Analysis was also conducted to assess how these costs can be calculated given available data sources. Finally, an assessment of the possibility of applying machine learning or other tools to build algorithms to calculate the costs was carried out.

The findings of this project will eventually be used in a phase 2 of the work which will look to build a model to provide preliminary estimates of the cost of food crime to UK society. 

Read full report.

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9389120853?profile=RESIZE_584xGenome editing, also known as gene editing, is one of the precision breeding techniques in food that may be adopted by the government after EU Exit. Therefore DEFRA have run a public consultation on genetic technologies in food (Opens in a new window).

This research by the Food Standards Agency complements the consultation by gathering evidence specifically on consumer interests. For more information about genome editing in food, view our FSA Explains video.


Key findings  

  • Consumers tended to have very low awareness and very low knowledge of GE food.
  • More informed consumers were, or became, more accepting of GE food.
  • Consumers tended to find GE food more acceptable than GM food. However, consumers found GM or GE applied to plants more acceptable than applications to animals, for example, due to human safety and animal welfare concerns.
  • Most consumers felt it would be appropriate to regulate GE foods separately from GM foods. At the same time, many felt regulation should be just as thorough as for GM.
  • Most consumers felt labelling should always inform the consumer of the presence of GE ingredients using the full term ‘genome edited’.  
  • Overall, consumers wanted thorough regulation and transparent labelling if GE foods reach the UK market, and they suggested social media information campaigns and TV documentaries would help educate the public on GE food. 

Download report and appendices.

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How the FSA is Helping to Combat Online Food Crime


The volume of trade of food sold over the internet is both growing and changing at a rapid rate, and there is increasing concern about the potential safety and the possibility of food fraud of this trade. In this article, the FSA (Food Standards Agency) explains what action it is taking to regulate the online trade in food, especially dealing with the proliferation of unregistered businesses on online platforms. In particular, FSA has been rolling out a digital Register a Food Business tool, which allows businesses to register digitally with their local authority using a smart phone, tablet or PC.  

Read the article here

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In this article, Emily Miles, Head of the Food Standards Agency, and Prof Chris Elliott, Queens University Belfast, discuss the impact of reduced funding to local authorities (LAs) at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Food Safety Conference. Emily Miles noted the 20% reduction in food professionals (Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers) for 2020/21 and what it might mean for food safety, and the effect on our future trade after Brexit. Prof Elliott spoke about the seven principles of food integrity: food should be safe; authentic; nutritious; systems used to produce food should be sustainable; ethical; we have to respect and protect the environment and all those people who produce food.The budget cuts for sampling and testing could lead to a two-tier system in the UK, where large food retailers and manufacturers continue their own very effective food integrity assurance, but leave the SMEs in a very vulnerable position.

Read the aricle here

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8017971267?profile=RESIZE_584x Registration is now open for a free online conference, run in partnership between the UK Food Standards Agency and the University of Sheffield, on Monday 9 November 2020 as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

The COVID 19 outbreak has necessitated a move away from more traditional data collection methods and accelerated the innovative use of digital data. In partnership with the University of Sheffield, this virtual half-day event will demonstrate how digital data collection and analysis can inform our understanding of food, and outline key findings related to the digitalisation of food behaviours.  

It will cover the recent review of the FSA flagship survey, Food and You, digital self-report methods on handwashing behaviour and key findings from recent social media analysis, including COVID-19 trends in food behaviour.    

The event offers an excellent opportunity for anyone in the social science community to hear about how social science directly informs real life policy-making in a government context under rapidly changing circumstances. As well as learning about the work and priorities of the FSA and international colleagues, virtual panel sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss ideas with experts from academia, industry and policy.  

To book your place, please register using Eventbrite.  

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6429640493?profile=RESIZE_400x The FSA's Chief Scientific Adviser, Prof Guy Poppy has published on 17 June his review of risk analysis, which began in 2018. Risk analysis is the process of estimating risks to human and/or animal health, identifying and implementing measures to control the risks, and communicating these risks and measures to relevant parties. It has three components: risk assessment, led by science and evidence; risk management, the consideration of management options available by policy officials; and risk  communication. When the UK leaves the EU on 1 January 2021, European legislation on food and feed safety will move into UK law to provide continuation of the rules. However, the FSA and FSS will be reponsible for the most of the risk analysis functions that were previously provided by EFSA. The report outlines the FSA's response to this future change:

1. A clearer separation between our risk assessment and risk management to ensure the scientific integrity of risk assessment;
2. An expanded role for our Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs), strengthened by recruiting additional experts and by establishing three new Joint  Expert Groups (JEGs);
3. A new UK process for authorising regulated products such as food and feed additives, enzymes, 3 flavourings, novel foods, GM food and feed.

The new approach to risk analysis will also include: 
• Developing food and feed safety standards and controls based on scientific evidence e.g. policies, guidance, controls and enforcement;
• Pre-market approvals and post-market reviews of regulated food and feed products;
• Risk-based import controls;
• Handling incidents and food crime.

Read the article here

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4233925226?profile=RESIZE_710xThe FSA has today published guidance to assist food businesses in responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The new guidance has been developed with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and covers a range of areas including good hygiene practice, management of employee sickness, and social distancing for specific food business settings.

It is very unlikely that people can catch COVID-19 from food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.

The FSA is working with the food industry to ensure that businesses know what their responsibilities are and what actions they need to take to maintain safety standards and protect staff during the outbreak.

The guidance can be found on GOV.UK


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The survey assessed how LAs plan and prioritise their food standards work, the resources and capacity they have and how they measure the success of their programmes. The review can be found here

Key findings from the survey

  • Levels of food standards resource in England are generally lower than in Wales and Northern Ireland, with 22% of English LAs having less than 1 Full-Time Equivalent (‘FTE’) person dedicated to food standards work.  
  • 15% of food businesses are unrated for food standards risk, however the figures for some LAs are higher
  • LAs had difficulty in recruiting qualified officers and 57% of LAs were not in a position to support a student through the qualification process 

Alternative approaches to food standards delivery are being adopted effectively by many LAs. FSA intend to explore and build on areas of good practice as part of their reform programme. 

Review to be discussed at the next FSA Board meeting

The review of food standards has been published as part of the FSA Board papers. 

The next Board meeting will be held at Church House in London on Wednesday 5 December 2018 at 8.30am. You can attend in person or watch it live online.

A full agenda and published papers can be viewed in the board meeting section of the FSA website

For details on how to register to attend the Board meeting, please see the Board section of the FSA website.


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Food Standards Agency Chair Heather Hancock has announced the appointment of a Chair and seven members to the Agency’s new Science Council. The Council will provide high-level, expert and independent advice and challenge to the Agency on how it uses science to underpin its work.

Professor Sandy Thomas will Chair the Council. Professor Thomas is Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and an Honorary Professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. She has extensive experience of leading, convening and generating cross-disciplinary analysis and strategic science to inform policy; and was Head of the UK Government’s Foresight Programme from 2007 to 2015.

The seven newly appointed members of the Council are: Professor Laura Green, Professor John O’Brien, Professor Sarah O’Brien, Mr Mark Rolfe, Dr Paul Turner, Professor Patrick Wolfe and Professor Mark Woolhouse. Mr Rolfe has been appointed to the role of Member bringing insights on the public’s perspectives.

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