There is nowhere in the world where food is safer than in the UK. Most other countries ­ and that emphatically includes the US ­ accept significantly greater risks than we do. We in Britain believe that the public has a right to expect the highest standards, particularly when so much of the food we eat is packaged and pre-prepared in conditions where hygiene can be properly monitored. The trouble is that all this concentration on food safety still results in our being super-vulnerable to food scares. It's heady stuff for tabloid journalism. From listeria to salmonella and from sweeteners to soft drinks, there's always a good story in a scare. Any white-coated researcher is credited with being a scientist worthy of respect and his views put up against even the most thorough of Government investigations involving all the leading experts. As a result the industry has begun to believe that it can't win. Increasingly it greets food scares with a feeling of inevitable failure. That's where I believe they've got it wrong. The new Food Agency gives the industry its chance. It's the moment to get serious about the record of British food companies. They need to challenge Professor Krebs and his team to build a reputation, which will reassure consumers and not become the means of giving new life to every scare story. Its very independence sought to give it the opportunity to set the record straight. No major food company can afford to take risks with safety. There's more for them to lose than any regulator or government watchdog. If the Food Safety Agency wants to prove its even-handedness it needs to show that it can back manufacturers and retailers when they are right and face down campaigners when they are wrong. That's the real way to prove themselves true friends to the consumer. {{NEWS }}