Science Council Chair's Report

Prof Sandy Thomas

Last updated: 02 December 2021

Chair’s meetings since June 2021









Robin May

Susan Jebb

Julie Hill

Robin May

Emily Miles​

Robin May (FSA CSA): July and Oct 2021: Robin’s initial views on the NFS, Science Council recruitment, our role providing strategic oversight and the food safety and net zero carbon review.​

Emily Miles (FSA CEO): Nov 2021: Discuss progress of Council work and future direction.

Susan Jebb (FSA Chair): Aug 2021: Introduction to the new FSA Chair and her vision for the FSA.

Julie Hill (ACSS Deputy Chair): Sep 2021: Discuss the work of our respective committees and the connections between our two reviews:  Food Safety and Net Zero Carbon and CCCB.


FSA Board meeting 16 June 2021


Presentation of Working Group 5 final report

  • Paul Turner and I attended this Board meeting to present the final report and recommendations from the Working Group 5 review of food hypersensitivity.
  • This final report complemented the interim report presented to the FSA Board at the September 2020 Board meeting.
  • The response from the Board was positive.
  • The FSA executive agreed to that a draft implementation plan for the report recommendations would be ready this summer.

Biannual Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Chairs meeting


11 November 2021, Mary Ward House, 5 - 7 Tavistock Place

  • We discussed a range of topics of common interest, including:
  • An update on recent SAC activities;
  • Improving diversity and inclusion in committee membership;
  • Cross-SAC issues;
  • How the FSA can better support Chairs;
  • An update on UK divergence from EU legislation and;
  • A short horizon scanning session.

Recent and ongoing work programme

Critical Review of the appraisal of third-party evidence​

  • Initial findings have been shared with the FSA Executive Management Team and were shared with the FSA Board in Board paper updating members on risk assessment.​
  • Final report was published at the end of June 2021 and a frameworks for assessing un-commissioned third party data have been published on​
  • This has been an unusual ‘mini’ review for the Science Council and I hope that we will be able to do more of these, providing short concise advice on timely issues, alongside our more in depth reviews.​


Food Safety and Net Zero Carbon (NZC) review (Working Group 6)

  • This has been in development since December 2020 starting with an interest in NZC, focusing on food safety by March this year with the review in its current form being agreed in June.
  • Terms of Reference for the review have been published on the Science Council website.
  • There will be an update on this review later this morning, but in essence the Science Council is reviewing the food safety implications of changes being made to (or affecting) the food system over then next decade to achieve net zero carbon. 

Looking forward

Science Council will be losing one member but gaining two new ones

  • Sarah O’Brien will be leaving the Science Council at the end of March 2022 after 5 years of valuable contribution to the work of the Science Council.
  • The Council will therefore be looking to recruit three talented new members in the new year (increasing the number of Council members to 10).
  • We are looking for people who can think strategically but who also have expertise in risk assessment/modelling, food manufacturing technology and infection epidemiology and zoonoses.


Future work programme

  • The report of the WG6 survey and workshop will be published early next year.
  • Work will start on prioritising the outputs from the workshop and commissioning literature review(s) to deep dive on the NZC changes which have the most potential implications for food safety.
  • It is proposed the Council provide an assurance and oversight role for the FSA Strategic Insights team and help with development and delivery of their short-term strategic reviews.
  • We will be taking part in the triennial review of SACs that will be happening in early 2022.