The Government is to launch a large-scale campaign to combat the flagging reputation of British food standards in the eye of the consumer. It comes as the BSE and foot and mouth crises leave consumer confidence in British produce at an all-time low.
COI Communications is developing a brief for an above-the-line advertising campaign for the Food Standards Agency, which will explain the body's work. The advertising will also attempt to educate caterers in hygenic and safe methods of food preparation.
A number of COI roster agencies have been asked to prepare for a strategic pitch on ideas of how the FSA should position itself. It is thought that the shortlist includes five agencies.
Nic Fearon, information officer at the FSA, confirmed the pitch but was reluctant to go into any details. 'There is possibly something in the offing in the next few months,' he said. 'We are discussing the brief. It is going to be for a long-running campaign - definitely one year and possibly up to three.'
The FSA was launched in April last year under the banner of bringing all aspects of food safety and standards, 'from farm to fork', under the responsibility of one organisation.
In January, it demanded an investigation into lax abattoir procedures in Germany, after discovering specimens of potentially BSE-infected spinal cord in 41 tons of imported beef. The FSA also launched an investigation into the risk that milk could transmit BSE between humans and cows.
In February, Sir John Krebs, chairman of the FSA, released the results of a survey telling how more people than statisticians expected suffer stomach upsets linked to spoiled food.
Sir John promised an action plan that would help to cut food poisoning by one fifth in five years, meaning increased licensing, more training and more inspections.
In December, the FSA developed an audit scheme that inspects local authorities to make sure that they impose food regulations and rigorously inspect all concerned. In November, Sir John stated that he couldn't guarantee the safety of French beef.
In February 2000, the FSA appointed Joshua to develop the branding for the department. Joshua had previously worked for government institutions, including projects for both the Department of Energy and the Department of Trade and Industry.