Meat fraud, genes and imports: FSA head Emily Miles sums up year which led to first Radio 4 Today interview

Plus, drinking sherry on Christmas and experimenting on Christmas Day
Photo: Chris Howes/Wild Places Photography/Alamy

By CSW staff

30 Dec 2023


Tell us three words that sum up your 2023...   

Fraud, Imports, Genes. 

...And why you chose those words   

Fraud: There was a big story about meat fraud in March and April. The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit had been investigating a firm for passing off foreign beef as British beef and charging more for it. The FSA and our local authority colleagues were really busy checking out the allegations and there was a lot of media interest, including my first ever Radio 4 Today interview. 

Imports: The FSA has been calling for import controls on high-risk food and feed from the EU for at least a couple of years. We got closer to that prospect when the Government published its Borders Target Operating Model in August. And we’ve also done lots of work supporting Defra and others on the implementation of the Windsor Framework. 

Genes: Defra legislated to have a lighter touch authorisation regime for gene edited, or “precision bred” organisms in the Spring. The FSA has been working up the detail of the new regime for precision bred food and feed over the last few months and issued a consultation on it in November. 

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024? 

We’ll be working hard on assessing the safety of new products for sale in the UK and working up proposals to reform the regulatory system for authorised food and feed. We’ll also be making sure that our meat hygiene inspections carry on in abattoirs and meat “cutting plants”, which are the big butchers around the country. 

My personal priority is to connect more to my garden and other green spaces. 

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’?   

Favourite festive treat: Drinking sherry on Christmas Eve and listening to the carols from King’s College Cambridge, while I’m doing the cooking. 

Bah Humbug: Turkey. I eat it but it’s not my favourite. We often experiment with fish or vegetarian dishes instead on Christmas Day. 

This is part of CSW's annual perm secs roundup. Read all the entries to the 2023 roundup here

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