October 1990 ­ Dr David Clark, shadow food minister, promises an independent agency to ensure high standards of hygiene and nutrition in food. Feb 1997 ­ Conservative government appoints food safety supremo and announces intention to establish a new food safety council. Opposition says not independent enough of government. Feb 1997 ­ Labour unveils plans for FSA on back of its failure to censure agriculture minister Douglas Hogg over his handling of BSE. Labour promises an "independent, authoritative body". March 1997 ­ Professor Philip James, of Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute, commissioned to come up with blueprint for the FSA. Then opposition leader Tony Blair says: "The case is now irrefutable for a powerful agency which should act as one point of contact. At the moment, responsibility is scattered through various departments, 43 different quangos in MAFF, the DoH and the Departments of Education and Employment." May 1997 ­ James Report published outlining a role for FSA in promotion of sound nutrition. Consultation begins. January 1998 ­ White Paper published playing down FSA's responsibility for nutrition. January 1999 ­ Draft Food Standards Bill published. May 1999 ­ Food safety minister Jeff Rooker floats idea of two tier system to replace proposed £90 flat levy for all retailers. June 1999 ­ Plan to charge all retailers dropped. November1999 ­ Bill receives Royal Assent. The act establishes FSA's main objective "to protect public health from risks which may arise in connection with the consumption of food, and otherwise to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food". January 2000 ­ appointments announced; March 2000 ­ Board members announced. April 3 2000 ­ Agency becomes operational. {{COVER FEATURE }}