Dame Deirdre Hutton, chair of the UK Food Standards Agency, will step down next July, the watchdog has announced.

Hutton, who ends her four-year term next July, said today (18 December) that she felt it was time for a new chair to take the agency on to the "next stage of its development".

She said: "I have been with the Agency for nearly half of its relatively short life, during which consumer confidence in the FSA as a regulator, and a source of trusted advice, has continued to rise."

Alan Johnson, secretary of state for health said that the government was "very fortunate" in having Deirdre as the chair of the FSA.

"In the time she has been with the Agency it has become even more trusted by consumers and respected by industry as an independent guardian of our food," he said.