Vacancy -- Chair - Food Standards Agency

Vacancy details

Food Standards Agency
London or other
  • The FSA Chair is remunerated at a rate of £70,000 per annum
  • Remuneration is taxable, and subject to National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid. Remuneration is not pensionable
  • You may claim travel and subsistence expenses, which are properly and necessarily incurred in carrying out your role and responsibilities as the Chair of FSA, in line with travel and subsistence policy and rates for FSA. A copy of the policy and rates can be obtained from FSA

Function of body


The FSA is an independent non-ministerial government department, set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.

We are concerned with the safety of food right along the food supply chain, from when it is produced, to when it is served on the plate. As the national authority responsible for food safety, we set the regulations that food businesses are obliged to follow, and work with delivery partners across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure those regulations are enforced. We want the public to have trust in the food they eat, and that is why we work in an open and transparent way, making sure that consumer health and interests are at the heart of everything we do.


The FSA is accountable to the UK parliament and assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland. We work closely with colleagues in Food Standards Scotland to provide a robust and coherent regulatory regime, to make sure that consumers across the UK can have confidence that the highest level of food standards are being set and maintained. To help achieve this aim, the department has offices in London, Cardiff, Belfast, York and Birmingham, and employs over 1,300 staff. We not only work with a range of other government partners, which includes providing advice to Ministers across three governments, but also actively engage internationally. We make sure that we play an important role in supranational standard setting and sharing best practice with other national competent authorities.


As the central authority for food and feed safety in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we face a large range of complex and time-dependent challenges. Food and Drink is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector and the Agri-food sector as a whole contributed almost £122bn to national Gross Value Added in 2017. Furthermore, the national and global context in which the FSA operates is changing at great speed, and the FSA needs to continue to evolve in order to meet changing public demands. With dynamic global trade bringing greater choice to UK consumers than ever before, the advent of new purchasing practices and changing dietary preferences, and the need for holistic approaches to health, wellbeing and the environment, the FSA must keep pace with societal expectations. In doing so, the FSA must take advantage of new technologies and data-driven processes to support a risk-based approach to both standard setting and enforcement of over 600,000 businesses.


A major challenge facing the Agri-food sector is an increased potential for illegal and illicit activity through food crime due to the rapidly changing regulatory landscape. The FSA is fully committed to ensuring the authenticity and provenance of food right along the supply chain, with the establishment of the National Food Crime Unit. The department also has a rapid and resilient response to food incidents, investigating 2,323 food, feed and environmental contamination incidents in 2018/19 alone.


The FSA’s ambition is to be recognised at home, and abroad as an Excellent Accountable Modern Regulator. The FSA’s statutory purpose is protecting public health, and the consumers’ wider interests, in relation to food.


To deliver this the FSA applies three core principles:

• Operating in the consumer interest;

• With openness and transparency; and

• Taking decisions and providing advice on the basis of science and evidence.


The FSA’s strategic priorities for 2020/21 are:

EU exit

Regulatory reform

Operations Transformation




In all our work the FSA is committed to:


• Developing scientific capability to ensure that our work is based upon rigorous and up-to-date scientific advice, including continuous assurance of our risk analysis programme


• Ensure that food safety regulatory activity in the UK is modernised so that it is risk-based, data-driven, and fit-for-purpose


• Becoming a global leader in food safety regulation, through collaboration and information sharing with likeminded organisations across the globe


• Persuading UK trading partners as to the quality and effectiveness of the UK’s food safety regulatory regime.


A wide range of information about the FSA’s work can be found on our website at:   and the ‘About us’ brochure:


(English Version)

(Welsh Version)​ 

Role description

The Chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is accountable to Parliament directly, via Select Committees, and – on the floor of the Houses of Parliament and other Assemblies - through the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Health Ministers in Northern Ireland and Wales.


The Chair will be expected to provide leadership and challenge to the organisation through delivery of the following responsibilities:


  • Work with the Board and Chief Executive to set the strategic direction for the FSA, ensuring the department continues to be highly effective in protecting public health, the consumer’s wider interests in relation to food, and delivering its mission of “food we can trust”, whilst recognising the need to regulate in a proportionate way, balancing risk and freedom to make choices
  • Champion the FSA’s core values of putting the consumer first; science and evidence-based decision making; being independent of specific sectoral and political interests; and operating on the basis of transparency and openness
  • Provide leadership for the Board to fully discharge its governance, assurance and strategic responsibilities as a non-Ministerial department, including scrutiny of and support to the Executive
  • Ensure the effective recruitment, induction, development and performance management of Non-Executive Directors, Chief Executive, Chief Scientific Adviser and Chair of the Science Council. Develop and maintain a supportive working relationship with the Chief Executive and Chief Scientific Adviser
  • Lead close working relationships with health and food Ministers in all three countries and with the Chair of Food Standards Scotland, working across organisational boundaries to support UK food standards policy delivery
  • Lead effective working relationships with local authorities to help ensure food stays safe and honest, implementing the FSA’s powers under the food standards act to influence and oversee local authority feed and food law enforcement. 
  • Lead stakeholder relationships with senior industry, science and consumer figures, and Parliamentarians, thus setting the tone for excellent working relationships, and represent the FSA at meetings, conferences and public events
  • Represent the FSA effectively in the media, and at meetings, conferences and other public fora, whether addressing strategic consumer interests in relation to food, or dealing with specific high-profile food and feed safety concerns

Qualities required for the role of the Chair

The Department of Health and Social Care values and promotes diversity and encourages applications from all sections of the community. The boards of public bodies should reflect the population they are there to serve. Boards also benefit from fresh perspectives, and we are always keen to encourage candidates with private sector experience to consider applying for our roles.

Welsh language skills

The Welsh Government acknowledges the importance of developing and growing bilingual capabilities in public appointments in Wales, and welcomes applications from candidates who demonstrate their capability to work in both English and Welsh.  The following list of language requirements represents an objective assessment by the recruiting body of the Welsh language skills required to undertake the duties of this particular post.
Not necessary to undertake the duties of this post

Person specification

Essential Criteria

To be considered, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the qualities, skills and experience to meet all the essential criteria for appointment.

  • Strong strategic leadership skills and a career record of achievement at the highest levels, with the ability to lead a significant national organisation through a period of high-profile scrutiny
  • Able to deliver the highest standards of board level and public sector accountability, including strong governance, accountability, probity and propriety, developing a high-performing board, and working effectively with an executive
  • To demonstrate leadership and commitment to inclusive practice and promoting equality of opportunity
  • Excellent communication skills, comfortable about operating in the open, including with the media
  • Politically astute and adept at building productive and supportive relationships with multiple stakeholders in governments, industry, science and consumer fields
  • Scientific literacy, including confidence in working with scientific advice; understanding of risk; and an appreciation of evidence-based policymaking (Note: it is not essential for candidates to have deep or professional scientific expertise)
  • A clear commitment to the Food Standards Agency’s role in protecting public health, the consumer’s wider interests in relation to food, and delivering its mission of “food we can trust”

Interview dates

22 February 2021
22 February 2021

Closing date

25/01/2021, 12:00

Additional information

How to apply

To make an application please email your CV, a supporting letter and completed monitoring forms to: – please quote ref: VAC-1692 in the subject field.

If you are unable to apply by email please contact Daniel Clemence on 0113 2545335

Applications must be received by midday on 25 January 2021

In making an application please note the following:

Supporting letter

The supporting letter is your opportunity to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria set out in the person specification. It will benefit the Advisory Assessment Panel if you can be clear which specific evidence you provide relates to which criteria. Providing separate paragraphs in relation to each criterion is common practice. Please write all acronyms in full first.

Please ensure your full name, the role to which you are applying and the corresponding reference number for the post are clearly noted at the top of your letter.

Please limit your letter to two pages, and type or write clearly in black ink.

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This vacancy is closed to applications.