Letter: How to prevent food disasters

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How to prevent food disasters

Sir: You rightly draw attention in your leading article of 4 December to the apparent conflicting responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) to both food producers and consumers.The view has been expressed that the conflict of interest contributed to the current BSE situation.

This is made worse by the fact that the responsibilities for food safety fall to nine government ministries. In addition to Maff, the Department of Health, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Offices, the Home Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Foreign Office and the Department of the Environment all have involvement in aspects of food production and food safety. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that we have been facing a catalogue of food safety disasters .

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is one of a number of bodies calling for an independent Food Agency, which could be responsible for strategic direction and for disseminating clear and accurate messages to the public.

MICHAEL COOKE

Chief Executive

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

London SE1

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