Scottish food safety body takes the reins from FSA

Stand-alone organisation Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has taken over the functions of the Food Standards Agency in the Scottish market as of yesterday (1 April).

Seven board members were appointed to the body in January by the Scottish minister for public health Maureen Watt, and they have been working on a shadow basis in the run-up to the takeover.

The FSS has been established “to provide independent information and advice on food safety and standards, nutrition and labelling to consumers in Scotland”.

It will operate from a new premises in Pilgrim House, Aberdeen, which it described as “fitting for the forward-thinking, dynamic organisation”.

The board members are George Brechin, Marieke Dwarshuis, Heather Kelman, Dr Carrie Ruxton, Dr Susan Walker, Dr Anne Maree Wallace, and Louise Welsh. They will operate under the chair, Ross Finnie.

The National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) welcomed the launch of the new body: “FSS has an opportunity to build on the many positive messages that surround our food, drink and farming. It has the potential to be an independent, transparent and accessible body which takes all the right decisions for these important sectors.

“Throughout the whole process, we have supported the need for a stand-alone food body, with responsibility for food safety, standards and nutrition in Scotland as the best way to respond to the unique issues in relation to diet, obesity and food-borne diseases in this country.”

The union added that, with the FSS, it believed the delivery of official controls in the meat sector would be more cost-effective and suited to the Scottish industry.

FSS marked the launch by carrying out a YouGov poll to look into the priorities of the Scottish public. The survey showed that consumers were concerned about making sure they and their families ate a healthy, balanced diet, while worries over food authenticity also existed. Around two-fifths of Scots also expressed issues with confusion over food labelling and a lack of clear information to make informed choices.

The FSS’ existence appears vindicated by 88% of respondents saying it was important that there was an organisation focused on protecting the interests of Scottish consumers when it came to food safety and nutrition.

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