Clive Beddall Rumours that Tony Blair plans to break up MAFF and transfer its responsibilities for the food chain to a variety of government departments have prompted angry responses from leading figures and organisations across grocery. Typical of the reactions The Grocer has received to the rumours was the comment from a leading supplier CEO on Thursday: "We know change must come at MAFF. "But if Blair thinks he can simply break up the ministry and dump responsibility for the food chain into the DTI, who have never understood the food industry anyway, he can expect one hell of a protest." Despite a retort from Blair in the Commons on Wednesday that reports MAFF would be dismantled and replaced by a new rural affairs department were "nonsense", Westminster was awash with rumours this week that the ministry would be broken up and parts hived off once the FMD crisis was over. And as the protests from food chain groups began, the Food and Drink Federation confirmed it is preparing a list of major policy recommendations to MAFF in the light of the foot and mouth crisis. The recommendations are likely to include: - MAFF agreeing to second officials to food firms to help them learn about the industry so as to understand its needs - The ministry reviewing the food law enforcement system in the UK and the difficulties arising from the use of vets for some parts and environmental health officers for others, and whether recommendations could be made for improvement; - MAFF's possible establishment of a food industry advisory committee to advise ministers on food industry policy along the lines of the food advisory committee which now comes under the Food Standards Agency instead of MAFF. FDF director general Sylvia Jay said on Thursday: "We have been making our views about MAFF in the pre-election period known to government. It is vital that the entire food chain is represented through a single department with a senior cabinet level minister." - Year of the Cull? See News Analysis, page 14. {{NEWS }}