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Understanding food standards

Food standards are an important part of ensuring that the food sold in supermarkets is healthy and safe for consumption. Laws are in place to ensure that businesses in the food industry are selling and providing foods which have not been tampered with in any way and are fit for humans to eat. This article provides you with a general overview of food standards.

Safety and hygiene

Food safety and hygiene are two very important areas that the Food Standard Agency (FSA) is responsible for, ensuring that all food meets certain requirements. Research is carried out to check chemical, radiological and microbiological safety of food items, as well as to understand food allergies and intolerances. The FSA also provides guidelines for people cooking at home to help to avoid food poisoning and ensure that all food is being prepared correctly.

Labelling

Food must be labelled to show exactly what ingredients and nutritional value the product contains. This labelling is crucial so that consumers are able to ensure that they are eating a balanced diet, which doesn't contain too much fat, salt or sugar. Information on calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates is included on all labels, with amounts of sugars, salt, sodium and fibre often added as well. Sometimes, information on how the product fits into the diet on a daily basis is also shown, in the form of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).

GM foods

More recently, it has become necessary to introduce guidelines for genetically modified foods. The Food Standards Agency has ruled that GM foods and other kinds of “novel” foods have to pass stringent tests before they can be sold within the European Union. A novel food is anything that hasn't been consumed regularly before 15 May 1997. These foods must not have a lower nutritional value than the foods they are a replacement for, nor must they be misleading or a risk to health.

Enforcement

To guarantee that all regulations relating to food are followed by all businesses in the food industry, the Food Standards Agency works alongside enforcement officers from the local government. The FSA oversees all checks and inspections, and also ensures that its enforcement officers are clear about the Food Law Code of Practice and know exactly how the law should be applied. Source:
Food Standards Agency - Food.gov.uk

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