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For many years this Veggie Eye writer has had a wee gripe with the FSA – Food Standards Agency – in so much that whilst it means well with it’s shiny exterior and regulations/statistics aplenty in real terms it serves absolutely no purpose, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, it doesn’t regulate as a standards agency accordingly and fairly as it should, if you are a small business it will seemingly regulate the life out of you, if you are a large well-known enterprise then you are seemingly left alone, it’s simply just there in name but cut underneath the waffle and quite frankly it’s a bit lost, lost and bound in it’s own regulations, distributing it’s wrath unfairly, it just doesn’t seem to have any direction and more importantly it’s actually quite dense, full of contradictions and – it’s horrible to say – any real food science knowledge, oouch, cutting I know but it’s early and this Veggie Eye contributor has not had her morning coffee.

I could rant on for an eternity about the FSA but then I came across this wonderful article by the journalist Joanna Blythman who expertly & articulately sums up the farce that has become the FSA most notably regarding the recent campaign on acrylamide which is riddled with contradictions and not much more, so do scroll down and take a few minutes to read Joanna’s piece and please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The legal bit: -The article below is not owned & has not been written for 
VeggieEye, we have merely shared the article as it covers an area that we are 
very concerned with in relation to food standards & science in the UK, Veggie 
Eye has not altered/doctored the article in any way we have only highlighted a 
couple of areas in order present the article to the reader. The author of the 
article, 
Joanna Blythman is not affiliated to Veggie Eye, any comments we make or that 
appear in the comments section below are not attached to the author.

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The FSA’s ‘go for gold’ campaign on acrylamide is an utter shambles.

Earlier this week I heard Chris Evans mocking it on Radio 2. Is the FSA “a little bit hyper” he wondered? Does it have “too much energy”? Is it gripped by “stats fever”?

The strength of reaction in the wider country was much more heated, revealing a nation that would willingly court the statistical possibility of dying seven minutes earlier, say, if that permitted a lifetime of amber roasties and well-browned toast.

This campaign is the last straw for citizens who have diligently tried to follow government food advice. Their confidence in the evidence base of FSA and NHS Choices dietary homilies is gone. We’re sick of lectures, all those finger-wagging dogmas that defy common sense.

Frankly, I’m pleased. The FSA has failed to deliver the hopes we had for it as a plucky defender of public health and safety. It’s now part of the problem, not a solution. Its mix of civil servants who lack background in real food, scientists with narrow academic obsessions who can’t or won’t see any bigger food picture, and a careerist caste of staff parachuted in from business or other quangos, has proven deadly.

Any ambition we ever had for the FSA to act independently of the food industry has turned to dust as it pursues its agenda of quasi self-regulation for major retailers and manufacturers while hounding small enterprises it deems to be “rogue operators”.

“The FSA reminds me of a fat, petted household cat that bullies the kittens from next door, but turns tail when the bruiser cat from over the garden wall turns up”.

The real pity of the FSA’s ‘go for gold’ fiasco is that acrylamide does pose a real health risk, but as the HEATOX (Heat-generated food toxicants, identification, characterisation and risk minimisation) project concluded, the acrylamide we eat in home-cooked food is “relatively small when compared with industrially or restaurant-prepared foods”.

The FSA assures us “the processed food industry has changed its preparation methods to lower potential risk”. How does it know this when manufacturers don’t have to measure, let alone report, their acrylamide levels?

What a mess. And to add insult to injury, we are paying for it.

Joanna Blythman is a journalist and author of Swallow This

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