NEW LEGISLATION has been announced to give officers greater enforcement powers to seize products that do not meet food standards or labelling rules.
The legislation will be introduced as part of the Scottish Government Food Standards Scotland Bill which will also create a new food body for Scotland.
Part of the bill will also make it compulsory to report non-compliance with food standards regulations, which cover food fraud.
The move is one of a range of measures announced by the Scottish Government in response to two expert group reports that were commissioned following the horsemeat fraud which rocked Europe.
The Expert Advisory Group, led by former chief vet Professor Jim Scudamore, was asked by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson to look at food and feed safety and standards in Scotland ahead of the establishment of a new food body. In addition, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, commissioned Ray Jones’ Expert Advisory Group to consider traceability and labelling in the red meat sector.
Other immediate action taken by the Scottish Government and partners includes:
- Additional Food Standards Agency (FSA) Scotland funding to extend meat testing, with work underway to enable the identification of Scotch branded beef in future.
- The preparation of additional guidance on public sector food procurement in Scotland.
- Asking retailers for more clarity in how they label red meat products as Scottish.
- £1 million extra support given earlier this year to Quality Meat Scotland to strengthen consumer awareness of the provenance that underpins the Scotch label.
- A further £1 million investment, also announced earlier this year, for the development of a multi species livestock database to improve traceability.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “We need to be able to trust the food we buy. We must know what is in our food and it must be safe to eat.
“The horsemeat scandal severely dented consumer confidence here in Scotland and across Europe. That is why the Scottish Government and our partners, including the FSA, are taking tough action to protect consumers and ensure food quality and safety.
“Our vision for Scotland’s new food body is that its primary focus will be consumer protection. It will make sure food in Scotland is safe to eat and it will improve the diet and nutrition of people in Scotland. Given the importance of food safety, and the value of the Scottish food industry to our economy, we must ensure we have a robust regulatory regime for food in Scotland.”