BIG QUESTION: Is a food safety officer the best way to restore public confidence?

The Government is to appoint a food safety expert in the wake of recent food scares.

The Government is to appoint a food safety expert in the wake of

recent food scares.

Lee Tomkins

Ruder Finn

’It would provide a focus for concerns about food safety and give the

general public a feeling that there was an independent review process in

place to deal with issues promptly. At the moment the public is wavering

and doesn’t know what to think. Of course it would have to be someone of

considerable standing and experience but if, like the chief medical

officer, they can remain above political bias, there’s no reason why the

public shouldn’t develop confidence in the process in the long


Jonathan Choat

Cameron Choat and Partners

’It’s a good move, but it won’t stop the self-appointed representatives

of food safety desperately trying to make their opinions heard. What

they and sections of the media concentrate on is the hazard rather than

the real risk, which is very small. If an independent expert can put

that risk into context and is backed up by strong scientific evidence,

then I think the public can have some faith.’

Matt Tee

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust

’In terms of public relations I think the answer is no. The food

industry is so disparate that I think it’s unlikely an inspector will

have the scope and teeth to get to grips with the issue. Also, if you

have the same Ministry in charge of food safety and farmers, can any

inspector be seen to be impartial? The problem is credibility. No-one

believes the government has the power to control the problem and setting

up an inspectorate won’t change that.’

Colin Doeg

Author of Crisis Management in the Food and Drinks Industry

’This is mere electioneering. The creation of a strong, independent food

agency like the FDA in the US but more in tune with European food

regimes would do more to restore public confidence in the Government and

the food industry. Such a drastic solution is necessary because the

integrity of food manufacturers and suppliers and their commitment to

consumers and the production of safe, wholesome foods is not generally


Nor is the difficulty of conveying complicated scientific matters in

simple, comprehensible terms which do not cause unnecessary alarm. It is

all too easy for information to be exploited out of context by pressure

groups and others with vested interests.’

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