Monday 25 June 2001
First meeting of the new Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition
The new Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), which advises the Government on matters relating to diet, nutrition and health, held its first meeting on 12 and 13 June 2001, in London. SACN succeeds the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) which was established in 1963. The Committee's establishment follows the setting up of the Food Standards Agency and the consequent need to review existing arrangements for scientific advice on nutrition. The Committee advises The Agency and Health Departments and is supported by a joint secretariat from The Agency and the Department of Health. The following items were discussed at this meeting:
Code of Practice
The Committee considered a draft Code of Practice, which covered issues such as terms of reference, public service values, standards in public life and handling conflicts of interest.
Terms of Reference
The members discussed its terms of reference. The remit of the Committee will be to advise the Government on the scientific aspects of nutrition and health. Its terms of reference are as follows:
To advise the CMOs and/or FSA, and thus, through the CMOs or FSA, the Government on scientific aspects of nutrition and health with specific reference to:
- Nutrient content of individual foods and advice on diet as a whole, including the definition of a balanced diet, and the nutritional status of people;
- Monitoring and surveillance of the above;
- Wider public health policy issues including conditions where nutritional status is one of a number of risk factors (e.g. cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and/or obesity);
- Vulnerable groups (e.g. infants and older people) and inequality issues;
- Research requirements for the above.
Openness of working arrangements
The Government has a clear commitment to increasing openness and transparency, and improving public understanding of how decisions are made and the justification for them. The Committee discussed the implications of this in relation to nutrition.
Members were asked to consider issues for inclusion in SACN's work programme.
Further details will be available upon publication of the minutes.