The Guardian, among others, is reporting this morning that the Food Standards Agency is to be abolished as part of the overhaul of the Department of Health, to be set out by Andrew Lansley in the white paper which is to be published at 15.30 today. The Guardian reports:
The Food Standards Agency is to be abolished by Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, it emerged last night, after the watchdog fought a running battle with industry over the introduction of colour-coded “traffic light” warnings for groceries, TV dinners and snacks. The move has sparked accusations that the government has “caved in to big business”.
Going on to say:
Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, said: “Getting rid of the FSA is the latest in a number of worrying steps that show Andrew Lansley caving in to the food industry. It does raise the question whether the health secretary wants to protect the public health or promote food companies.” Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, said it was “crazy” to dismember the FSA. “It had a hugely important role in improving the quality of foodstuffs in Britain and it was vital to have at the centre of government a body that championed healthy food. This appears just the old Conservative party being the political wing of business,” Fry said.
But something that the Guardian, along with the rest of the news media, has missed is the background of Lansley’s Special Adviser, Bill Morgan.
Morgan who is leading on policy development at the Department of Health, and has been at the heart of the work on the white paper, used to work for Mandate Communications. This is something of which they are very proud indeed.
Not particulary suprising, given that most special advisers work in public affairs at some point in their careers. However, it is interesting to note that Mandate work or have worked for rather a lot of “big businesses” with an interest in the regulation of the food industry.
Indeed, it would be fair to say that they specialise. And, actually, not just ordinary “big businesses”, but firms like Kraft Foods, Coca Cola, Cadbury and Tesco. More like massive behemoths of global agribusiness, then.
Who are presumably celebrating this morning.