Chair of the Food Standards Agency (VAC-1692)

Body: Food Standards Agency
Appointing Department: Department of Health and Social Care
Sector: Health and Social Care
Location: London/Various
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The FSA Chair is remunerated at a rate of £70,000 per annum
Time Requirements: 2.5 to 3 days per week


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Following a pre-appointment hearing Professor Susan Jebb has been appointed by the appointing authorities as Chair of the Food Standards Agency for 3 years from 1 July 2021.

The appointment will involve a time commitment of 2.5 to 3 days per week. Remuneration for the role will be at a rate of £70,000 per annum.

This appointment is made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Code of Governance for Public Appointments. The regulation of public appointments against the requirements of this Code is carried out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The appointment is made on merit and political activity played no part in the decision process. However, in accordance with the Code, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Susan has not declared any political activity.

Date: 24/06/2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    25/01/2021 at midday

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description


Ministers are seeking to make a Chair appointment to the board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The Chair is appointed by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care acting jointly with the appropriate Ministers in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Role and Responsibilities of the Chair

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


Person Specification

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.

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”


Additional Information

Message from the outgoing FSA Chair, Heather Hancock   

I’m delighted that you are considering applying to chair the Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). You would be taking over the reins at a pivotal moment in the way we protect public health and consumers’ interests in food. Leading this department is an immensely rewarding experience and brings fascinating and sometimes testing challenges and opportunities.

For 20 years, the FSA has occupied a relatively unusual position as a non-Ministerial department in three governments – England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The department was created in the wake of the BSE crisis, which saw consumer confidence plummet when it came to food safety and political influence. That is why we are free of political direction, have a high degree of independence, and operate by putting the consumer first.  The lessons of BSE are also woven into our absolute commitment to operate in the open and transparently, and on the basis of science and evidence. Our relentless focus on these founding principles is a major reason why we enjoy such high levels of public trust – 73% in the last survey, putting us in the top ten of most reputable Public Sector organisations.

As we move towards the end of EU transition, the FSA is looking forward to implementing four years’ preparations for repatriating responsibilities from the EU. We are confident our preparations will provide a fully effective, equivalent regulatory regime that secures the same high standards for food we all expect in the UK.  The three Governments we work with are publicly committed to maintaining our current food standards, and we intend to sustain our influential global position on food safety and regulation. But we are acutely aware that hardly a day passes without the impact of future trade deals on our food being in the headlines.   The emotive and economic importance of food will see our risk analysis and our advice to Ministers being scrutinised, tested and challenged.   As Chair, you will lead the Board and the executive team in navigating this environment, delivering on the FSA’s mission to ensure that the public can trust that their food is safe and authentic, and can always look to the FSA for the truth about food.

EU Transition isn’t the only complex change on our agenda.  The FSA Board is committed to innovation and to making it easy for food businesses to do the right thing.  We have a long term programme to modernise the regulatory regime, becoming more agile in the face of rapid change in the global food system, and using surveillance and horizon scanning to get ahead of future threats.  And we have made a major commitment to make life better for people with food allergies and intolerances – health issues that can have as big an impact on people’s lives as ‘traditional’ microbiological risks from food, but which for too long have been overlooked.

In chairing the FSA, you will be leading the Board to set strategic priorities for fulfilling the FSA’s statutory purposes, setting targets and measuring outcomes to track progress, and assuring delivery of programmes and plans. The Board takes major decisions on public health and regulatory matters, which frequently includes the expert advice of our independent scientific committees as well as our in house science and research teams.   The FSA Chair leads on a wide range of stakeholder relationships, none more important than with Ministers and elected members in the three administrations.  We handle most of our own Parliamentary and National Assembly business, although legislation and ‘floor of the House’ matters are handled by the relevant Public Health Minister. A further critical relationship is with our sister department in Scotland, Food Standards Scotland.

Today, the FSA Board is enthused by the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We want to be regarded as an excellent, accountable, modern regulator. I have found chairing the FSA to be exciting, intellectually challenging and rewarding, and very enjoyable.  We have a great team of dedicated and knowledgeable officials, led by a talented CEO.  There’s a lot to do, and the capacity, drive and determination to do it – and all the time, we seek to make a positive difference to the health and quality of life of everyone across the country.

Heather Hancock LVO DL

Chair, Food Standards Agency


Food Standards Agency role and responsibilities

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
  • Hypersensitivities

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)​

How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in the appointment of the Chair to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

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.

Conflicts of interest

If you have any business or personal interests that might be relevant to the work of FSA, and which could lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest if you were to be appointed, please provide details in your Supporting letter.

If appointed, you will also be required to declare these interests on appointment and they will be entered on a register which is available to the public.

Standards in public life and ensuring public confidence

Given the nature of public appointments, it is important that those appointed as members of public bodies maintain the confidence of the public and Government. If there are any issues in your personal or professional history (including any convictions or bankruptcy) that could, if you were appointed, be misconstrued, cause embarrassment to Ministers or FSA or cause public confidence in the appointment to be jeopardised, it is important that you bring them to the attention of the Advisory Assessment Panel and provide details of the issue/s in your Supporting letter. In considering whether you wish to declare any issues, you should also reflect on any public statements you have made, including through social media and blogs. Due Diligence may be carried out on any publicly available information and shared with the Advisory Assessment Panel.

The panel may explore any issues you declare with you before they make a recommendation on the appointment.

Failure to disclose such information could result in an appointment being terminated, as those who hold public appointments are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of corporate and personal conduct and are required to subscribe to the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies, as part of agreeing to the terms and conditions of appointment. You can access this document at:

There are also circumstances in which individuals may not be considered for appointment, due to them not meeting certain eligibility criteria for appointment. For further information, please refer to Section 2.3: Disqualification from Appointment

If you wish to discuss any queries on conflicts, please see the contacts section.


Please ensure your CV includes:

  • Your full name, title, home address, personal contact telephone numbers (land line and mobile), personal email address and details of any twitter accounts and LinkedIn accounts including your twitter handle/username.
  • Similar contact details for two referees who will support your application. One referee should be the person to whom you are/were accountable in your current/most recent appointment or position of employment. Please indicate the relationship of each referee to you. References will be requested for short-listed candidates prior to interview.
  • Brief details of your current or most recent post and the dates you occupied this role. Please identify any past or present Ministerial appointments.

The appointment of the Chair of FSA will be subjected to a pre-appointment hearing with the Health and Social Care Committee.  For further details see Section 2.2 of the information pack.  Please be aware that the CV of Minister’s preferred candidate for appointment, with personal details removed, will be sent to the Health and Social Care Committee.

Monitoring form

Please complete the Diversity Monitoring form. Diversity monitoring information will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel assessing your application.

Political activity information is primarily for monitoring purposes only, however if you are shortlisted for interview, this information will be shared with the selection panel. The reason for this is that it is appreciated that such activities may have given you relevant skills, including experience gained from committee work, collective decision-making, resolving conflict and public speaking. If you have had such experience and you consider it relevant to your application for this post, you should also take the opportunity to include it separately in your supporting statement. If possible, you should not, however, identify the relevant political party in your statement.

If you are appointed to this role, please note that any political activity you declare will be published in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Disability Confident Scheme

The Department of Health and Social Care values and promotes diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity for all and to the appointment of disabled people. As part of the Disability Confident Scheme, we guarantee an interview to anyone with a disability who applies under the Scheme and whose application meets the essential criteria for the post.

What do we mean by a disability?

To be eligible for the Disability Confident Scheme you must have a disability or long-term health condition, which could be physical, sensory or mental and must be expected to last for at least 12 months. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person to apply under this scheme.

If you wish to apply under the DCS please complete section E of the Diversity and Monitoring form and return it with your application.

All applications will be acknowledged by email after the closing date.


For further information regarding the role of FSA and the role of the Chair please contact:

Name:  Dr David Self – Head of Private Office

Tel:  07984 883451



Name: Emily Miles – Chief Executive



For further information regarding the selection process, please contact

Daniel Clemence

Appointments Team

Tel:  0113 2545335


Please quote reference VAC-1692 on all correspondence.

If you choose to apply, we would like to thank you in advance for your time and effort in making an application.

Candidate Information Pack_final
Return to Search