FSA board discusses resources to implement Troop review actions

The affordability of implementing some of the recommendations identified in Pat Troop’s report of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) handling of the horsemeat scandal have been questioned.

At a meeting held today, some members of the FSA board questioned the FSA’s ability to resource some of the recommendations Troop made in her independent review, published earlier this month.

Not only did some members struggle to see how the organisation would cover any further costs, but some also had issues with Troop’s recommendation to implement an “intelligence hub” and worried that it would cause a “cross-over” of the research carried out by the organisation.

Margaret Gilmore said FSA chief executive Catherine Brown had spoken of how the FSA had the resources to implement Troop’s recommendations, but added: “You don’t say how there could be a point when budgets cannot cope.”

In response to this, interim director of food safety Steve Wearne claimed “the actions we have identified can be met” from existing budgets, but added that it might be necessary to return to the board in the future to discuss those actions.

Meanwhile, Brown argued: “We can take forward this plan with our existing levels of resources.” However, she added that all of the “intelligence” recommendations made by Troop could not be taken on.

Another Board member said: “This could be a black hole for resources, without a doubt, and we need to be proportionate. We need to identify the things we see as real potentials.”

Despite the issues brought up by various board members, they decided to agree to Troop’s recommendations and board chairman Jeff Rooker said: “We wanted something to analyse what happened in the first six months and she [Troop] worked with remarkable speed and clarity.”

There was, however, no mention of Troop’s criticism of the FSA in the report, which said the organisation may have “hesitated” before dealing with the horsemeat issue. The FSA’s hesitancy was also brought up in an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee report today.

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