It was created in 2000 based on a report by Professor James , issued after a number of high-profile outbreaks and deaths from foodborne illness. It was felt that it was inappropriate to have one government department, the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, responsible for both the health of the farming and food processing industries and also for food safety.
Uniquely for a UK Government department, the Food Standards Act gave the Agency the statutory right to publish the advice it gives to Ministers - and as a signal of its independence it declared that it would invariably do so. From its inception the Agency declared that it would take no decisions about food policy except in open Board meetings accessible to the public. Since 2003 these meetings have been webcast live, enabling consumers to see the decision-making process in action. Each Board meeting concludes with a Q&A session in which web viewers can question the Board or its Executive directly.
Sir John Krebs was the first Chairman of the Food Standards Agency. He resigned in 2005 to become Principal of Jesus College, Oxford. Dame Deirdre Hutton is the current Chair of the FSA Board. Dr Ian Reynolds is the current Deputy Chair.
In February 2005, the agency announced the discovery of the dye Sudan I in Worcester sauce, prompting a mass recall of over 400 products that used the sauce as a flavouring. The Agency is advised by the ACMSF (Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food).
On 31 March 2006, it published its "Survey of benzene levels in soft drinks", which tested 150 products and found that four contained benzene levels above the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for drinking water. The Agency asked for these to be removed from sale.
The FSA pushed for stricter rules on tv advertising to children of foods high in salt, sugar and fat and devised a nutritional profiling system to measure the balance of benefit and detriment in individual food products. In 2007 the UK TV Regulator Ofcom introduced restrictions on advertising of products which scored poorly under the scheme.
In June 2002, and re-released in June 2006, the FSA conducts an advertising campaign on British television, highlighting the danger of food poisoning caused by barbecues. The advert, intended to shock viewers, shows sausages sizzling on a barbecue, looking to the viewer as if they are cooked. However, when a pair of tongs pick up one of these sausages, it falls apart, and reveals pink, uncooked meat in the middle. To emphasize the risk of diarrhoea and vomiting caused by food poisoning, the song "When will I see you again" by Three Degrees is played in the background. (source: - FSA website