About us

We resolve scientific disputes mainly in the food and feed sectors, give advice to regulators and industry, and carry out research.

We have a statutory function as a referee analyst under several acts of Parliament which focus on public protection, value for money and consumer choice. Regulatory areas where our advice may be important include the quality of food, animal feed, pesticides, medicines and chemicals.

Who we are

We are a scientific team based in Teddington. Our areas of expertise include molecular biology, chemical and biological metrology, and food science. The team includes a scientist with the required statutory qualification (MChemA) to act as referee analyst.

Our responsibilities

We are responsible for:

  • helping to settle technical disputes between food businesses and local authorities
  • carrying out research to give evidence-based advice
  • advising government and industry
  • sharing our findings with industry, academics and other organisations

The duties of the Government Chemist as referee analyst are defined in or under the following acts and regulations:

  • Food Safety Act 1990

  • Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) Regulations 2013

  • Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

  • Food (Northern Ireland) Order 1989

  • Food Safety (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

  • The Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

  • The Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) (Wales) Regulations 2013

  • Rheoliadau Diogelwch Bwyd (Samplu a Chymwysterau) (Cymru) 2013

  • Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Regulations 2007(1)

  • Materials and Articles in Contact with Food Regulations 2012(1)

  • Agriculture Act 1970

  • The Animal Feed (Hygiene, Sampling etc. and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2015(1)

  • Genetically Modified Animal Feed Regulations 2004(1)

  • Human Medicines Regulations 2012

  • Farm and Garden Chemicals Act 1967

The Government Chemist is named and has other scientific responsibilities under:

  • Merchant Shipping Act 1995

  • Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979

  • Poisons Act 1972

The status and territorial extent of the Government Chemist are understood with reference to:

  • Freedom of Information Act 2000

  • Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities) (Specification) Order 1999

  • Administrative Provisions Act (Northern Ireland) 1928

(1) Enacted as separate legislation in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Our priorities

From 2020 to 2023, our priorities will focus on:

  • Protecting consumers in a changing world

  • Supporting business and government across the UK

  • Maximising UK measurement infrastructure to address future challenges

  • Growing collaborative national skills initiatives

Our governance

The Government Chemist Programme Expert Group (GCPEG) plays a key role in the governance of the GC programme by providing the necessary independent scrutiny


Government Chemist staff sit on a number of important committees where they seek to input into and influence the development of new legislation, standards and policy to ensure that they are based on sound measurement science and are fit-for-purpose.

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