Health secretary Andrew Lansley is said to want to scrap the consumer watchdog to help cut health service bureaucracy by £1bn. However, health charities argue that the decision provides further evidence that the Government is in league with “junk” food and drink makers.
The FSA has led on attempts to get a reluctant industry to adopt “traffic light” warnings in a bid to highlight the unhealthy nature of some snacks and meals. The agency was also said to be planning to have “internal discussions” to ponder the issue of food price in relation to healthy eating, a so-called “fat tax”.
Andrew Dougal, chief executive of NI Chest Heart & Stroke, told the BBC: “It makes no sense to abolish a major line of defence against unhealthy eating”, adding, “without the Food Standards Agency and a truly independent healthy eating campaign, the pressure on the food firms to do the right thing will simply disappear.”
The move comes days after the Lansley announced that he wanted the industry to help pay for the Department of Health’s Change4Life anti-obesity initiative in exchange for no new regulation.
Health charities questioned the decision, predicting that businesses will drag their feet on promoting health.
It is said the FSA’s duties will be transferred to the Department for Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health says no decision on the future of the FSA has been made. However, she adds that it will be subject to a review along with all other “arms-length” bodies.