Ask Toni

ToniToni Smith is the Food Standards Agency’s Regional Co-ordinator for the South West of England. She works to strengthen relationships with local authorities and other local and regional partners to improve the delivery of FSA food safety and healthy eating targets in communities.

She will be a regular contributor to the Vision blog. If you have any food related questions, this is the place to ask…


6 Responses

  1. Toni, I was watching the BBC’s ‘One Show’ recently and the presenters seemed to imply that misleading food labelling is the fault of the FSA not taking a ‘tough line’ with food manufacturers. Do you this is a fair comment?

  2. Toni says:

    The FSA does take food labelling very seriously and works through our Trading Standards partners in local authorities to ensure we respond appropriately to any concerns raised about misleading food labelling. Sometimes when the law changes it can take time for companies to make the appropriate changes on pre-printed packaging and we do try to give short periods of flexibility in making changes.

    However, companies should not use any labelling that misleads consumers. The FSA issues guidance, for example, on clear labelling or on the use of marketing terms such as ‘fresh’ or ‘pure’ to assist food businesses in complying with the law and also to encourage them to adhere to best practice. You can find information on food labelling rules at . Protecting the consumer is our key role and we work with the FSA and food businesses to ensure that consumers can rely on the information they need to make informed purchases.”

  3. What is the FSA policy on Nutritional Standards for 0-5 year olds? Are they doing anything to influence the Foundation Stage?

  4. Toni says:

    Dear Mr Veg

    The Food Standards Agency bases its healthy eating advice for feeding babies and young children on guidance from the Department of Health who lead in this area. In 2005 the Agency provided a grant to the Caroline Walker Trust to update the Eating Well for under-5s in child care guidance and training materials.

    In summary children under 5 need a diet that is higher in fat and lower in fibre than that for older children and adults. Babies and children under two years have small stomachs and cannot eat large amounts of food all in one go, so they need small meals with healthier snacks in between. It is not a good idea to only give young children wholegrain foods, as they may fill the child up too quickly resulting in them not getting enough calories. Like the rest of the population young children need to eat a variety of foods mainly from the first four food groups mentioned above. The education (Nutritional Standards and Requirements for School Food) Regulations 2007 provide further detail.

    The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) provides a holistic approach to ensuring that settings/institutions looking after children provide a quality experience that supports children’s development. It only touches on healthy food choices and does not provide detailed information on nutritional standards. However the EYFS website provides parents and users with appropriate links on diet and health.


  5. Having seen the Soil Association report this week on the sort of food 1 in 6 early years settings are serving do the FSA still not think that there should be tougher standards as we have in schools or are they not prepared to show any teeth?

  6. Dear Mr Veg

    In response to your question about the ‘Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie’ report from the Soil Association, it might be useful for me to let readers know that the remit for early years settings lies with the Department for Children, Schools and Families. So it for DCSF to consider the findings of this report against the current standards for this setting.

    However the FSA is committed to encouraging healthier choices for children and this includes children who eat food provided in early years settings.

    To this end the FSA provided a grant to the Caroline Walker Trust in 2004 to update their guidance for nursery aged children. This updated advice is referenced in the ‘Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie’ report from the Soil Association and Organix. The report provides some interesting case studies but it does not provide sufficient evidence to condemn all nursery provision.

    The FSA is always keen to continue to work with others improve the nutritional health of all consumers, including children at nursery school.


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