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Research indicates conflicts of interest in food making policy in the UK.

1st March 2023

Research into conflicts of interest in the UK food regulatory Institutions was published recently in Nature Food (subscription required).

The research was published jointly by Professor Erik Millstone of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, (an expert on food chemical safety policy) and Professor Tim Laing of the Centre for Food Policy, City University of London.

The study entitled “An approach to conflicts of interest in UK food regulatory institutions" found both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) have advisory committees advising them where substantial numbers of conflicts of interest were declared.

They also found there were declared conflicts of interest in relation to the FSA board.

This research also suggests that those conflicts of interest have made UK food governance vulnerable to “agency capture” the theory that regulatory agencies may be dominated by the interest they regulate and not by the public interest.

The report recommended the following:

Our evidence shows that all people with commercial conflicts of interest should no longer be allowed to participate in UK food policymaking.

Our research finds that public funding for food safety research should be increased sufficiently for UK-based experts not to be dependent on commercial sponsorship.

Our research shows that the government should actively focus on commissioning research that could contribute effectively to improving food safety and food-related public health in the UK.

Finally, our research finds that MPs, and especially the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, should scrutinise UK Government food policy decision-making to ensure that those 3 recommendations are implemented.

Link below for more information:

https://staff.sussex.ac.uk/news/article/59911-conflicts-of-interest-in-uk-food-regulation-puts-public-health-at-risk-new-research




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