Debate over need for new food standards body

MPs have been warned that merely creating legislation may not be enough. Picture: Lisa McPhillips
MPs have been warned that merely creating legislation may not be enough. Picture: Lisa McPhillips
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LEGISLATION which will see a new food standards body established in Scotland will be debated by MSPs.

The Scottish Government wants to set up Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to replace the current Food Standards Agency in Scotland.

Provisions to create the body are contained in the Food (Scotland) Bill, which will be debated at its first stage at Holyrood.

The new body would have a wider scope, including greater powers to tackle diet and nutritional health in addition to regulating food safety.

Extra measures to ensure food safety were also included in the legislation in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

FSS would be given specific powers to seize food that does not meet labelling rules.

Publishing the legislation in March, public health minister Michael Matheson said such measures would help reassure consumers.

He added: “The body will be given specific enforcement powers to seize food that does not meet food standards or labelling rules and it will also be compulsory to report non-compliance with food standards regulations, which cover food fraud.”

Dave Watson, head of bargaining and campaigns at trade union Unison, which represents meat hygiene inspectors and environmental health officers, said: “MSPs are urged to recognise that simply creating a Scottish body to regulate food safety is not enough.

“They must legislate for higher standards to ensure the objectives set out in the Bill are achieved.”

The Bill has already been backed by the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee.

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