Who we are and what we do
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the independent Government department that works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in relation to food. We were set up in 2000, following a series of high-profile food safety issues, including the BSE crisis. Our purpose is food we can trust.
There are more than 500,000 food businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and half of our food comes in from other countries. The world in which the food industry and the FSA operate is changing rapidly. We continue to prioritise our reform of the regulatory delivery model so that it is agile in the face of new risks, and it continues to work better for everyone, including post EU exit.
We aim to strike the right balance between protection from risk, support for consumer choice, and support for business growth and innovation, while delivering regulation that is effective, proportionate and sustainable.
Our key functions
To keep the public safe from foodborne health risks, we:
- design and run the regulations that food businesses have to comply with
- get assurance that businesses are following the rules, and – when they don’t – we, or our
local authority delivery partners, put them right or enforce penalties
- capture, understand and mitigate risks to public health in the food system, including
imports, through surveillance
- use the best science and evidence, often commissioned directly, to develop advice and
judgements on food safety
- get vital information on food safety to the public, so that they can make informed choices,
eg through the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme
- work with the police and local authorities to tackle food fraud and food crime, through the
intelligence gathering and inhouse investigative capabilities of the National Food Crime Unit
- take a lead role internationally on food safety and authenticity, on behalf of the UK
We are committed to operating in the consumer interest, with openness and transparency, and working on the basis of science and evidence.
Our overarching mission is food we can trust.
Our organisation’s vision is comprised of the following goals:
- food is safe
- food is what it says it is
- consumers can make informed choices about what to eat
- consumers have access to an affordable diet, now and in the future – the FSA only holds
nutrition policy in Northern Ireland
The FSA assures the safety of food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In doing so, the
department strives to be an excellent, accountable and modern regulator, by adhering to the following principles:
We are proactive and risk-led, acting proportionately to mitigate current and future impacts on public health, and seizing opportunities to further consumer interests
We are science and evidence-based, using the most rigorous and up-to-date information and data
We are open and transparent in our decision-making
We are collaborative by default
We are assurers, making sure that all in the food system shoulder their responsibilities
We are international in our outlook, recognising the transnational nature of the food industry and its global supply chains
Diversity and Inclusion
At the FSA we want everyone to feel that they matter. For our people to serve our mission of ‘Food you can trust’ to the best of their capacity they need to feel they can be their whole, best self at work. We don’t want anyone to doubt that or think that they need to change in order to ‘fit in’ or ‘progress’. To us, it’s simple: if you can be fully you, the FSA will be better at fully being the FSA. Our diversity and inclusion strategy is designed to work on some of the root causes that hold people back from being their whole, best self at work. The FSA’s Diversity Council keeps it under regular review, and our active staff networks also have a big hand in making it real and alive. But ultimately, the FSA is an inclusive place because of the small acts of kindness, inclusion, celebration and welcome that our colleagues do every day. We have big ambitions to be a leader in D&I. Whilst we know that this will not be easy, drawing on a wealth of best practice from across government and beyond and listening to what our colleagues are telling us is a good place to start.