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Last updated: 21.08.17

What is the Food Standards Act 1999?

What is the Foods Standards Act 1999?

The Food Standards Act 1999 has been in play for almost two decades, but what are its functions and powers? Here we take a look in more detail.

Within the food and drink industry, there are many rules and regulations that businesses and food handlers must adhere to. While at times, these can lengthen food processes, it is crucial that standards remain high so that employees and customers are kept safe.

Why was the Food Standards Act 1999 created?

The Food Standards Act 1999 was mainly created to establish the Food Standards Agency (FSA), an independent government department that monitors those in the food industry so that people can trust that food they buy and eat is safe and honest. The Act provides the body with functions and powers that can be transferred to other areas in relation to food safety and standards under other acts.

Protecting the public

According to the FSA, its main objective is to protect public health in relation to food and the functions that it will assume in pursuit of that aim. The FSA has the powers necessary to enable it to act in the consumer’s interest at any stage in the food production and supply chain.

The FSA’s main organisational and accountability arrangements are provided for in the Act which also outlines powers to establish a scheme for the notification of the results of tests for foodborne diseases.


The Food Standards Act 1999 applies to all types of food businesses that have a responsibility to:

  • Ensure you do not include anything in food, remove anything, or treat food in any way that means it would be damaging to the health of people eating it
  • Ensure that food served or sold is of the nature, substance or quality that consumers would expect
  • Ensure that the food is labelled, advertised and presented in a way that is not false or misleading

This means that food businesses must ensure that they comply with the act by not rendering food injurious to health, selling food which is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded to the purchaser’s prejudice, or falsely describing or presenting food. Imported food must meet food safety and hygiene requirements outlined in the Act and may be subject to checks by enforcement authorities at UK points of import and inland.

The future of food safety

Moving forward, the FSA recognises that there are growing challenges surrounding food safety, affordability, security and sustainability. In order to address these, the organisation has come up with 2015-20 that reinvigorates their pledge to put consumers first in everything they do. The FSA plans to do this by using science, legislative and non-legislative tools, and being genuinely open and engaging.

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