PUBLIC SECT0R: Food standards body revamps comms

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has further increased its press office capabilities to nine staff as the latest part of move to position it as the consumer's authority on food safety issues.

This boost is part of a long-running restructure of its comms function, which has seen 20 staff leave and 25 join within two years.

Director of communications Neil Martinson would not rule out further PR hires.

The changes in staff since the agency's inception in 2000 are mirrored by changes in its output.

The comms team was created from fragments of other government departments drawn together to create the FSA, with the comms team inheriting 300 publications to oversee, a number since reduced to 80.

Martinson admitted only one member of the current communications staff had been with the agency when he himself joined in July 2000 (PRWeek, 30 June 2000).

He attributed the high turnover to the need to bring in more specialised comms staff: 'I inherited a staff of 21 people and apart from a very small number, they were not communications specialists,' he said.

He added that a lot of the agency's work had been to raise its own profile.

The FSA is to follow up its current Food Hygiene campaign with a seasonal promotional effort around the Whitsun and Golden Jubilee holidays.

That campaign will seek to underline the dangers of food poisoning posed by barbecues.

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