The Food and Drink Federation has strongly denied allegations that it has been lobbying the Food Standards Agency to hush up food scares.
The denial follows the publication in a national newspaper at the weekend of minutes from a meeting between the two organisations in March. The meeting was called to discuss the handling of the Sudan 1 food dye scare in February and the recall of hundreds of products.
A section of the minutes read: “The FDF commented that the publicity was a key concern and suggested that FSA needed to
take a proportionate approach and secure removal of products from the food chain without the type of media headlines seen in the Worcester sauce incident.” FDF spokeswoman Kate Snowden denied that it was asking for information to be kept from the public.
Rather, she said, where there was “no acute risk to public health, it could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis”.
“We had real concerns over headlines, such as ‘Killer Worcester Sauce’; it wasn’t true and was misleading. We want the FSA to take each case on its own merits and decide whether a withdrawal or a public recall is necessary.”
According to the FSA, there were mixed responses across Europe to the Sudan 1 outbreak. The UK, Sweden, Denmark and France opted for public recalls, while The Netherlands, Germany and Spain chose trade withdrawals, taking products off shelves without extra publicity.
Rachel Barnes