A NEW food standards body with greater powers to tackle diet and nutrition and regulate food safety comes into being today.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) takes over the responsibilities previously carried out north of the border by the Food Standards Agency.
Public health minister Maureen Watt said the launch represented “a great day” for the Scottish consumer and the food and drink sector.
She said: “We now have a new food body that is uniquely placed to focus on our own particular needs and priorities.
“Food Standards Scotland will be a trusted source of food safety advice and nutritional guidance.”
MSPs at Holyrood passed the legislation required to set up the new body in December last year.
Extra measures to ensure food safety were also included in the legislation in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
The primary concern of the FSS is consumer protection - making sure that food is safe to eat, ensuring consumers know what they are eating and improving nutrition.
It will also provide policy advice, keep consumers informed and ensure the enforcement of food regulations.
The body launches as a new YouGov poll shows that when it comes to food, other than costs, the Scottish public is most concerned about making sure they and their families eat a healthy, balanced diet (39 per cent).
This was followed by worries over food authenticity and concern over food safety.
The consumer group Which? has called for Food Standards Scotland to prioritise tackling food fraud and misleading practices, healthy eating, reducing food poisoning rates and improving food law enforcement.
Executive director Richard Lloyd said: “It’s important that Food Standards Scotland builds on the work of its predecessor and operates transparently as a strong, independent consumer champion.
“It’s vital that the new food agency tackles the challenges facing Scotland, including obesity rates, food poisoning and food fraud, putting the interests of Scottish consumers at its heart.”
FSS chief executive Geoff Ogle said that the new body “will provide a regime responsive to Scotland’s needs”.
He said: “Our focus will be on making decisions based on the food safety, labelling and nutrition issues that affect the Scottish public most directly.”
FSS is mainly funded by government with a budget of £15.7 million. The organisation is based in new premises in Aberdeen and has approximately 160 staff.
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