Legislation paving the way for the new Food Standards Agency received royal assent last week.

The agency will be a free-standing UK body. Health secretary Alan Milburn said its membership would be announced by the end of the year. The agency is due to start work next spring and will have responsibility for food safety and quality. It has been created following widespread concern about the independence and impartiality of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food following food scares such as the E coli outbreak in Lanarkshire. MAFF was accused of trying to serve both the public and the agriculture industry.