Helen Gregory The Food Standards Agency must work much harder to be perceived by the public as a robust and authoritative guardian of food standards. That's the view of each of main political parties' candidates for the MAFF hot seat. In exclusive interviews with The Grocer this week, minister of agriculture Nick Brown, the Shadow minister Tim Yeo and Lib-Dem agriculture spokesman Colin Breed have declared their conviction that the agency has come through the foot and mouth disaster well ­ but not with flying colours. Many industry observers have expressed surprise at the low key public profile of the agency during the crisis, despite the fact consumers here and abroad are under the impression FMD has implications for human health. Brown praised the work of Sir John Krebs and the FSA to date. But he said he thought the agency needed to consolidate the good start it has made in terms of public perception. Yeo said it was still "early days" for the agency, which he does not feel has yet really proved itself. If in charge, he would give it another year to see how it does before reassessing the situation. "It needs to show that it is genuinely independent of ministers and that it can give authoritative advice to consumers. It needs to find ways of having more control over imported food," he said. Breed, likewise, said he was heartened by its work so far ­ although he thought it still had a long way to go before getting the public's total trust (see page 32). - The FSA has confirmed that it has appointed BMP DDB to handle its creative advertising account. No budget has yet been revealed. {{NEWS }}