Scottish ministers agree to stand-alone FSA

Scottish ministers have agreed to create a stand-alone food standards agency and meat inspection service for Scotland.

The decision follows the recommendations outlined in the Scudamore review, which was published in April and concluded that Scotland would be best served by a new public body to fulfil the Food Standard Agency’s functions for Scotland.

Scotland’s Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “The changes in England removed significant capacity in the FSA’s 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.”

Officials said the new body would be kept at “arms-length” from Scottish government and will encompass nutrition and labelling policy, and meat inspection policy and operational delivery, in addition to food safety and standards. They added that creating the new body would require primary legislation, and the Scottish government plans to consult on options before the end of this year.

The decision has been welcomed by the Scottish meat industry and described by the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) as “a progressive and far-reaching move which will benefit the country’s whole meat chain, from producers to consumers”.

Alan McNaughton, president of the SAMW, said that embarking on a new collaborative approach to meat inspection in Scotland was a “refreshing prospect” for meat companies tired of the FSA’s “excessive” bureaucracy and heavy administrative costs.

“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,” he said.  

“We have a superb product to offer consumers, we’re 100% committed to product health and safety as the top priority of the new service and we’re all totally committed to working together to achieve the very best for Scotland’s meat industry.”

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead also welcomed the announcement. “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,” he said.

“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.”

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