Scotland takes action on food safety

Scotland’s new food body will include officers who have the power to seize food that does not meet food standards or labelling rules.

The legislation allowing this, recently announced by the Scottish Government, will be included in the country’s Food Standards Scotland Bill, which will also create the new food body.

The move is just one of several measures being implemented following the Europe-wide horsemeat scandal and two expert group reports, commissioned by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead.

Matheson commissioned former Chief Vet Professor Jim Scudamore’s Expert Advisory Group (EAG) to look at food and feed safety standards in Scotland, while Lochhead commissioned Ray Jones’ EAG to look at traceability and labelling in the red meat sector.

“We need to be able to trust the food we buy. We must know what is in our food and it must be safe to eat,” Matheson said. “The horsemeat scandal severely dented consumer confidence here in Scotland and across Europe. That is why the Scottish Government and our partners, including the FSA, are taking tough action to protect consumers and ensure food quality and safety.

He added that it was the government’s vision to have a new food body that was focused on consumer protection, ensuring food in the country was safe to eat, as well as improving diet and nutrition.

Lochhead said: “As the scale and scope of the horsemeat fraud unfolded across Europe, consumers in Scotland turned to Scottish-produced red meat, which is world-renowned for its superb quality and impeccable provenance – a tremendous vote of confidence in the arrangements we have in place in this country.

“Nevertheless, this government is determined to take action to further strengthen our defences and to build on the high levels of confidence in Scottish red meat.”

Other action to be taken by the Scottish Government and partners includes:
• additional Food Standards Agency (FSA) Scotland funding to extend meat testing, with work under way to enable the identification of Scotch-branded beef in future;
• the preparation of additional guidance on public sector food procurement in Scotland;
• asking retailers for more clarity on how they label red meat products as Scottish;
• £1m extra support given earlier this year to Quality Meat Scotland to strengthen consumer awareness of the provenance that underpins the Scotch label;
• and a further £1m investment, also announced earlier this year, for the development of a multi-species livestock database to improve traceability.


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