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Derry woman is making a difference to ‘protect your plate’ and ensure the food we eat is safe
9 Aug 2018
The Food Standards Agency in NI (FSA in NI) works with thousands of people from right across the food supply chain to ensure food is safe and what it says it is. Joanne Casey from Derry is a Senior Scientific Advisor for Dietary Health. Joanne takes pride in protecting the food which we eat, and with Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK with a nutrition remit, her role is quite unique. Joanne’s team co-created the ‘Know Your Calories’ campaign which was designed to raise awareness of adults recommended daily intake. This campaign has been vital for the people of Northern Ireland as our surveillance highlighted that 44% of women and only 15% of men knew their recommended daily calorie intake, but thanks to the work of the FSA in NI these figures have now improved, with an increase to 50% for women and 28% for men, this is a substantial increase and a great success for Joanne and the team. On an average day Joanne’s role involves meeting food businesses to discuss the reduction of salt, sugar or calories within products, planning conferences and workshops, or developing resources with key dietary health messages to help consumers understand what a healthy balanced diet looks like. Joanne is breaking ground with dietary health projects. She said: “We make sure to share our results and learn from colleagues, not only in the UK and Ireland, but across the globe. I regularly schedule calls across time zones with experts from e.g. New Zealand or Denmark and presented key projects to experts from across Europe”. "A notable success for Joanne is publishing minimum nutrition standards for food and drink sold to staff and visitors in the health service, this partnership was developed with the Public Health Agency and safefood. These standards build on the great work across all Health and Social Care Trust facilities and ensure staff and visitors in all health care settings across Northern Ireland have healthier options available at all times. "Much of the FSA’s work is done in partnership with local councils within Northern Ireland, who are responsible for checking food safety and hygiene in food businesses across the country, issuing hygiene ratings under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme." Maria Jennings the FSA’s Director in Northern Ireland, states, ‘Food produced and sold in Northern Ireland is highly regarded and notable for being safe. We work with staff from organisations such as the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and District Councils to ensure that food businesses follow food safety rules and regulations. Local people trust the food which they are eating in restaurants and cafes, this is a result of those behind-the-scenes people throughout the food chain who ensure our food standards remain high.
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