The creation of a standalone food standards body in Scotland has been supported by MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee.
The Food (Scotland) Bill proposes that the current Food Standards Agency in Scotland be replaced with Food Standards Scotland which, in addition to regulating food safety, would also have a role in diet and nutrition policy.
In a report published today, MSPs call for greater detail on the proposed research functions of Food Standards Scotland and how these functions will relate to UK-funded research bodies. The report also highlighted significant opportunities for the new body to gain from European funding streams including Horizon 2020 and the Committee has requested more detail in relation to how these funding opportunities can be exploited.
The new agency will also have the ability to apply administrative sanctions, including issuing fixed penalty notices, on those who commit an offence related to Scotland’s food law. Whilst supportive of the principle, the Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to consider establishing an appeals process for the new sanctions.
Convener of the Committee, Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“Scotland’s food and drink industry has gained an international reputation for quality, so the creation of this body will have a vital role in ensuring that consumers have trust in the safety of the food they eat.
“The proposed legislation will also give the new organisation greater power to administer sanctions to those breaking Scotland’s food law which will ultimately provide reassurance to consumers.”
Deputy Convener of the Committee, Bob Doris MSP said:
“Whilst this Bill may seem like an administrative change, in fact, what is being proposed is a new body which will not only be responsible for food safety but also diet and nutrition.
“It was clear that all these issues are extremely important in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland and protecting the reputation of Scotland’s food and drink industry. Our Committee agrees that the creation of this new body will be a positive step forward.”
The Committee was considering the Food (Scotland) Bill at stage one. The Committee took evidence from a number of organisations including Tesco, Professor Hugh Pennington, the Scottish Retail Consortium and the Scottish Food and Drink Federation.