A Romsey scientist is to become the top adviser on the nation’s food safety.

Professor Guy Poppy (above), of Southampton University, has been appointed as chief adviser to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and will take up the four-year post in August.

Professor Poppy, who has lived in Romsey for 13 years, is an expert in food security, which, in the light of last year’s horse meat scandal, he believes was instrumental in him gaining the job.

“The food chain has become much more complex. About 50 per cent of our food is produced in the UK and the rest comes from 180 countries around the world,” he told the Advertiser.

“I can’t think of anything more important than ensuring food safety and standards. Food is essential for human wellbeing and the increasingly complex food system brings benefits and risks to our daily lives.”

The 48-year-old research scientist said key parts of his new job would be to look at the issues of food pricing, shelf lives and food waste – we throw away around 40 per cent of the food we buy.

The father of two said he was looking forward to his new role. “In research, the impact of your work is often delayed by a long time. I’m looking forward to work which has an immediate impact on and relevance to everyone in the UK and beyond.”

Professor Poppy studied biology at Imperial College, London, before doing his PhD at Oxford.

He worked on pioneering agricultural projects at the world-renowned Rothamsted Research facility, near London, becoming its principal scientific officer.

At Southampton University, he has been director of Interdisciplinary Research, a role he will relinquish. He will, however continue his research work at the university alongside his job with the FSA.

Professor Don Nutbeam, vice-chancellor at the University of Southampton, commented: “We are delighted at Professor Poppy’s appointment. It reflects his status as one of the world’s leading experts in food security and safety.  His experience, knowledge and communication skills are exceptional and I am confident he will provide excellent public service on these issues of great importance.”