Dáil Éireann - Volume 486 - 29 January, 1998
Written Answers. - Food Safety Authority.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
51. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on whether the primary function of the Food Safety and Quality Authority is to react to food scares that arise from time to time; his views on whether the function of this authority is to plan and implement, with complete independence, food safety and quality to sustain consumer confidence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19447/97]
Mr. Deenihan Mr. Deenihan
79. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Government will bring forward the Bill setting up the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, to honour the commitment given in An Action Programme for the Millennium. [2091/98]
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
84. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when staff from his Department and other agencies will be transferred to the Food Safety and Quality Authority as stated in An Action Programme for the Millennium; his views on whether the complete independence of the authority's staff is a central element of the credible functioning of this authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19446/97]
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
85. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has brought proposals to Government for the establishment of the statutory independent science-based Food Safety and Quality Authority as promised in An Action Programme for the Millennium. [19417/97]
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
86. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Food Safety and Quality Authority will be established on a statutory basis; the envisaged role of this authority; the consideration, if any, he has given to the make up of the  authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23329/97]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt) Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt)
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I propose to take Questions Nos. 51, 79, 84, 85 and 86 together.
The Government has decided to bring forward a Bill setting up the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to honour the committment given in the Action Programme for the Millennium. The authority will be independent and science-based and will take over the functions relating to food safety currently discharged by other State agencies and Departments. I outlined the proposed content of the Bill to the Government before the end of last year and it is my intention to introduce it to the Oireachtas during the current session.
Responsibility for food safety is currently divided amongst several Departments and agencies and is carried out by a wide range of disciplines. Clearly, detailed consultation with the representatives concerned will be required before transfers to the new body can be effected. An interdepartmental committee has been established to co-ordinate the transfer of the relevant functions to the SFAI and this committee has already met on a number of occasions. In the meantime, in order to ensure continuity of the best possible service to the consumer, it is anticipated that the FSAI will discharge its functions in the first instance by way of contractual arrangements with existing agencies.
The Department of Health and Children is responsible for the rapid exchange of information on food alerts and I am satisfied that the systems currently in place work well. The question of the transfer of this function to the FSAI is one which may be considered in the longer term.
Dáil Éireann 486 Written Answers. Food Safety Authority.