Letter: Food safety body needs powers

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The Independent Online
Food safety body needs powers

Sir: The description "a food safety chief, independent but answerable to ministers" is an oxymoron ("Cabinet concedes need for food safety supremo", 30 January).

The actual safety of food is what we require, not the perception of safety. The question we should ask is `would such a body have prevented the BSE risks?' The answer to this is no. They might have reduced the problems after the 1988 and 1989 bans, but no more than that.

A useful body would have to have powers over animal feed and additives, such as the American FDA is using at present to ban the use of meat and bonemeal in feed.

We should cease being hypocritical about how our food is produced and how the inevitable waste is disposed of or recycled, by renderers (and compounders). Prevention of bad practices requires a sufficient food premises inspectorate (which could have prevented the E coli outbreak).

The restoration and funding of veterinary research laboratories and the veterinary inspectorate, together with the encouragement of medical/veterinary and international research collaboration, are what is required to stave off further comparable diseases. We should learn from our mistakes.

ANNE C MADDOCKS,

Chairman,

Spongiform Encephalopathy Research Campaign

Chislehurst, Kent

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