The Food Standards Agency supports a wide range of working patterns, and its staff members are either home-based or work in or out of our London, Cardiff, Belfast and York Offices. The majority of the Food Policy Division is based in the London office but it is possible to be based permanently out of one of the other offices.
About the job
Safe food is essential to the health of everyone and plays a major role in the economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people; food is a key export for the UK worth approximately £12bn per year. The Food Standards Agency offers a range of excellent opportunities in its Food Policy Division to work on issues of national importance.
These five roles offer a rare opportunity to work on policy, science and EU-related issues affecting everyone in the UK. All roles also offer a wide range of opportunities to build personal and professional capabilities to improve your future career prospects.
EU Exit Work: Very importantly, post holders will spend time working on policy development for EU Exit issues. A significant amount of food safety legislation is EU-derived and there will be a requirement to undertake various projects, individually or as part of a team, to fulfil agency commitments to EU exit. This will require flexibility and resilience to manage the fast paced and often unpredictable nature of the work. It will also offer exciting opportunities to build and develop new skills which will be beneficial to future career development.
You will be called upon to develop policy, risk management and control measures in one of the Food Policy Division’s eight policy teams:
Food Contact Materials: Food contact materials include plastics, recycled plastics, ceramics and other materials. Foods come into contact with many different materials during preparation, processing, packing, transportation, and consumption which include the machinery and utensils used to prepare, process, package and serve food to consumers. Therefore decisions made within this policy area affect virtually every UK citizen and have an effect on a wide cross-section of industries and stakeholder groups.
Meat Hygiene Policy: Meat Hygiene Policy team works with colleagues across the FSA (in particular our Operational Delivery team, legal colleagues, our Better Regulation team and in conjunction with the FSA’s offices in the devolved countries). We also work closely with industry representatives, the European Commission and other EU Member States to develop effective, proportionate and practical policies that protect consumers.
Foodborne disease Control: Foodborne illness affects hundreds of thousands of people each year. The post holder will be required to develop policy and oversee delivery of work to mitigate the risks from all the major foodborne bacteria and viruses, working closely with external stakeholders and by working closely with our Communications and Analytics colleagues to present targeted and appropriate food hygiene messages to consumers. Policy development is evidenced-based and the post holder will be required to ensure any necessary evidence is procured and assessed in an appropriate manner.
Food Hygiene Policy: All the food we eat should be hygienically produced and safe to eat. We mitigate food safety risks in relation to all foods by ensuring effective risk based controls are at the heart of UK and EU legislation and UK production. This includes general controls that will apply to all products and those that are specific to different commodities other than meat which is covered by a separate team.
Animal Feed, TSEs and Animal By-products: The production of safe animal feed is the indispensable first step in the production of safe and hygienic food-of –animal-origin. The team has responsibility for the development of UK policy, negotiation of EU legislation and its implementation for animal feed. It also has responsibility for some policy aspects of animal by-products. The team sets the policy for the management of food safety risks from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and other TSEs.
Food Additives, Flavourings and Contact Materials: Flavourings are products added to food in order to impart or modify odour and/or taste. Enzymes are naturally-occurring proteins that enhance biochemical reactions and are normally added to perform a technological function in the manufacture, processing, preparation and treatment of a wide range of foods. The post holder will lead on the development of proportionate food flavourings, enzymes and caffeine safety policy and the implementation of sound evidence-based interventions.
Novel Foods and Process and Radiological Protection: Novel foods are foods which do not have a history of consumption in the EU before 1997, when the first legislation was introduced. Before they can be sold they must be authorised as being safe, following a through scientific risk assessment. Radiation poses a threat to food and humans and the UK has a number of nuclear facilities, The FSA runs a number of radiological protection programmes to monitor radioactive emissions and protect consumers
Allergy and Intolerance: Rates of food allergy and intolerance vary across the world. In the UK an estimated two million people are living with a diagnosed food allergy, and 600,000 (1 in 100) with coeliac disease. Food allergy gets significant attention from interest groups and media. More people per year are hospitalised due to food hypersensitivity (which includes allergic reactions) than through foodborne disease and there are occasional deaths. The post holder will lead on developing legislation, managing communication work with stakeholders, risk modelling and act as a project officer.
Agricultural, Process & Environmental Contaminants: This team covers a very wide range of risks to food, ranging from lead, cyanide, through to micro plastics. These are complex risks, required mitigation in a range of ways, for example the development of new agricultural practices or setting of maximum levels and the tema is very activie with industry and internationally to develop new regulatory measures.
The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial department of 1050 people, with a big vision – to drive change in the food system so that it delivers “food we can trust”.
It’s our job to use our expertise and influence so that people can trust that the food they buy and eat, is safe and honest. Our work touches everyone because everyone eats and the challenges around ensuring food safety are increasingly complex. The FSA conducts a range of policy and operational activity across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect the consumer.
Working within the Food Standards Agency’s policy function you will be at the heart of developing policy to manage feed and food safety risks and to support and promote consumers’ other interests in relation to food, and realising it through strategies, negotiations, campaigns, legislation, advice and guidance. Our approach to legislative and non-legislative tools is outcome focused and risk-based. In the Policy Division, staff members are deployed flexibly, on a project basis to deliver and contribute to cross-cutting policy initiatives.
The FSA supports a wide range of working patterns, and its members are either home-based or work in or out of our London, Cardiff, Belfast and York offices. The FSA’s Our Ways of Connecting (OWOC) programme is a key priority for the department and offers flexibility in a range of areas including home working, no core hours and flexi time, with new IT equipment including Skype for Business being rolled out.
Food Policy Division is a friendly and supportive place to work. There are multiple opportunities to develop your skills and build experiences, including overseas travel once suitably trained, and a varied and challenging workload across all grades. The Senior Management Team is passionate about learning and development, has a generous learning budget and strongly encourages opportunities to progress. Recent leavers in the division have used their skills gained in the FSA to go on to hold a range of interesting and challenging roles across several government departments, including DEFRA, DFID, DFE and DIT, often on promotion
Want to find out more? Then please take a look at the attached job description which details the key responsibilities.
• Contribute to their team’s work to support government negotiations on EU exit and to deploy flexibly on any food policy and regulatory aspects associated with leaving the EU;
• Provide briefing on UK lines for others attending external meetings, e.g. at EU Commission and working groups. Where appropriate, represent the UK effectively and professionally at these meetings.
• Identify and make recommendations on emerging scientific and/or policy issues.
• Demonstrate effective drafting skills. Prepare briefing, Ministerial submissions, replies to Parliamentary Questions, etc.
• Make autonomous decisions under pressure that are science and / or evidence based, taking account of the bigger picture.
• Apply appropriate project and contract management and commercial skills to plan work, manage risks, and monitor progress to ensure works stays on track and delivers planned outcomes;
• Contribute to policy thinking within the Policy Unit, the Division and the Agency;
Guide research programmes to support policy development.
The successful candidates will ideally (but not necessarily) have demonstrable experience of working in a policy development environment, including working on EU issues. Full training will be available for successful candidates where required.
A scientific degree in an appropriate life science (biology, biochemistry, immunology or toxicology) or demonstrable experience in these fields would be an advantage for candidates interested in a Higher Scientific Officer posting.
Coupled with this we need a person with great interpersonal skills, so if you have previously developed business relationships and worked with internal and external stakeholders, then you are the right sort of person we are looking for in terms of experience and skills.
We'll assess you against these competencies during the selection process:
- Making effective decisions
- Collaborating and partnering
- Seeing the big picture
- Changing and improving
- Leading and communicating
- Delivering at pace
Civil Service Competency Framework
We offer excellent benefits, including a generous holiday entitlement, an attractive pension scheme, flexi-time and flexible working options.
Things you need to know
Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Candidates will be subject to UK immigration
requirements as well as Civil Service nationality rules
If you're applying for a role requiring security clearance please be aware that foreign or dual nationality is not an automatic bar. However certain posts may have restrictions which could affect those who do not have sole British nationality or who have personal connections with certain countries outside the UK.
Selection process details
Subject to the volume of responses we may conduct a preliminary sift based on the lead competences of Making Effective Decisions and Collaborating and Partnering
We actively review the deployment of talent on a periodic basis in the interests of optimising personal development and the achievement of business plans.
If you’d like to be considered, please also take a look through the additional documents attached which will help you put your application in. We look forward to hearing from you!
Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.
Candidates in their probationary period are not eligible to apply for vacancies within this department.
Working for the Civil Service
The Civil Service Code
sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.
We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
Apply and further information
Contact point for applicants
If you wish to discuss further, please contact one of the following who would be happy to speak with you:
Kevin Hargin, Head of Foodborne Disease Control Team.
Kevin.email@example.com; 020 7276 8953
Linden Jack, Head of Food Hygiene Policy Team.
Linden.firstname.lastname@example.org; 020 7276 8941
Colin Clifford, Head of Novel Foods and Processes and Radiological Protection Team.
Colin.email@example.com; 020 7276 8584
Carles Orri, Head of Food Additives, Flavourings and Contact Materials Team.
Carles.firstname.lastname@example.org; 020 7276 8406
For enquiries relating to specific posts, please refer to line manager details in the job description attached.
Sift/interview dates and location
Sift 4 - 15 December
Interviews w/c 8 January