Scottish ministers have announced plans to create a stand-alone food standards agency for Scotland, which could cover food safety and standards, nutrition, labelling and meat inspection.
This move comes two years after the UK Government decided to move responsibility for nutrition and food labelling in England from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to the Department of Health and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
In response to this, the Scottish Government felt that the power of FSA was weakened and commissioned a review, which was published in April 2012. .
Led by Professor Jim Scudamore, the review recommended that Scotland would be best served by an independent public body to fulfil the Food Standard Agency's functions for Scotland. The new body would work closely with the Scottish government.
Scottish Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the changes in England weakened FSA's nutrition and labelling functions for Scotland, which needed to be addressed: "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."
Since primary legislation would be required to create the new body, Scottish ministers plan to consult on options before the end of 2012.
The FSA noted that this decision will directly affect nearly 200 jobs based in Scotland, and it plans to work with the Scottish government to ensure that concerns of the staff are appropriately addressed.
The FSA chair, Jeff Rooker, said that the board respects the decision to propose a free-standing, independent agency 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."
Image: The proposed Scottish food safety agency will take over looking into food safety, standards, nutrition, labelling and meat inspection from the FDA. Photo: courtesy of Zasvedogov.