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Food Standards Body for Scotland

UK - Scottish Ministers have agreed to create a new Scottish body for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labelling and meat inspection.

The move follows the recommendations of the Scudamore review, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government as a result of the UK Government's decision to move responsibility for nutrition and food labelling in England from the Food Standards Agency to the Department of Health and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2010.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: The changes in England removed significant capacity in the FSAs nutrition and labelling functions for Scotland and needed to be addressed. I thank Professor Jim Scudamore and his colleagues for their months of work to develop this comprehensive report which we have been considering since publication in April.

We have accepted all their recommendations. A new body will allow a Scottish approach to be taken to tackle poor diet and food-borne diseases and should support our food and drink industry in growing its strong, international reputation for safe, quality food.

The new body will be at arms-length from the Scottish Government. The body will encompass nutrition and labelling policy, and meat inspection policy and operational delivery, in addition to food safety and standards. We will establish a new body which is independent, evidence-based, consumer-focussed and transparent.

Creating a new Scottish Food Standards body will require primary legislation, and we plan to consult on options before end of this year.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: I welcome the decision to transfer operational control of meat inspection delivery to the FSA in Scotland as soon as possible, which we hope will deliver a more cost-effective service and further enhance our strong reputation for quality and hygiene.

I am keen to explore how quickly this could be achieved. Legislation would not be needed so I would expect to transfer meat inspection, after discussions with the industry and the Food Standards Agency, before the new body is established.

Marieke Dwarshuis, Director at consumer watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland, said: The consequences of poor food safety measures can be devastating and people want to know that the highest standards and controls are in place. We are pleased that this new Scottish body is intended to be transparent and consumer focused and we look forward to seeing the detailed proposals on how it will carry out its vital roles.

Alan McNaughton, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said: The new structure, as outlined by the Scottish Government, is very much a new dawn for our industry, offering everyone involved the chance to start again with fresh ambitions, fresh attitudes and a vision for continued development. We have a superb product to offer consumers, were 100% committed to product health and safety as the top priority of the new service and were all totally committed to working together to achieve the very best for Scotlands meat industry."

Jeff Rooker, Chair of the UK Food Standards Agency, said: "The FSA Board respects the decision the Scottish Government has taken to propose a free-standing, independent FSA for Scotland. We will work with the Scottish Government to meet their objectives while ensuring that consumers interests in relation to food continue to be protected.

"The FSA Board is particularly mindful that this decision will directly impact on almost 200 of our staff based in Scotland, for example in meat plants as well as those in the FSA's Aberdeen office, and will have an effect on how the rest of the organisation works. We will work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that the concerns of our staff are appropriately addressed.

"Until any alternative legislative amendments come into force, the FSA will continue to carry out its duties as at present. Food safety throughout the UK remains the FSAs number one priority."

Chris Haris

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