Spaces of security, surveillance and food safety: interrogating perceptions of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's governing technologies, power and performance



Set within a discourse of biosecurity and biopolitics, and noting the rise of neoliberal approaches in food safety governance processes, this paper examines the landscape of Irish food risk governance 10 years on from the formation of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). Utilising a theoretical lens predicated on the interplay between neoliberal and biosecurity ideals and empirical data from qualitative research conducted with food industry stakeholders, the role, motivations, impact and performance of this institution of security are interrogated and assessed. Adding an institutional dimension to broader environmental security debates, this focus on the FSAI also allows the exploration of a complex geography of power and constraints through a discussion of the Authority's scalar relations to other actors in the food risk arena. Expanding existing FSA literature from a focus on establishment to a qualitative evaluation of FSA operating logics, performance and impact, the FSAI appears to represent an institution that is neither wholly neoliberal in its approach nor solely preoccupied with biosecurity concerns. Instead, findings suggest an institution that operates at the interface of these ideals, demonstrating (and fluctuating between) characteristics of both security logics. The paper concludes outlining the need for further comparative research regarding the conditions under which different security logics are employed in (and impact on) food safety securitisation regimes.