1. Scottish Ministers have an overarching ambition to help people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives through eating safe, healthy food. Ministers are committed to improve public health and have taken decisive action to tackle smoking and reduce alcohol consumption; improving diet offers similar potential to improve public health.
2. The current horsemeat scandal has clearly highlighted the importance of having a single independent public body with clear responsibility for all aspects of food safety and standards. It was for precisely this reason that Scottish Ministers took the decision last year to create a new food body for Scotland. The new food body will maintain the important principle that advice on food safety, nutrition and labelling should be independent and transparent, and should be provided by an organisation which should remain at arm's length from central Government.
3. The Scottish Government intends to bring forward legislation to create a stand-alone body in Scotland for food safety and standards, feed safety and standards, nutrition, food labelling, and meat inspection policy and operational delivery. These devolved functions are currently carried out in Scotland by the UK-wide Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is accountable to all four Parliaments/Assemblies in the UK.
4. Scottish Ministers want to establish an efficient and effective food body which will be responsive to Scottish circumstances, particularly in ensuring that the Scottish Administration has the capacity needed to develop and implement policies to improve public health through diet and nutrition.
5. The new food body will carry out all the functions currently delivered by the FSA in Scotland. This consultation seeks views on whether the new food body could usefully expand its role and responsibilities beyond the those functions. We also seek views on how the new food body's independence from Government and the food industry could be assured.
6. The consultation questions are set out on pages 23-25. Annex B provides details on how you can respond. Responses are invited by no later than 22 May 2013. Dialogue with key stakeholders will continue throughout this period, and we may also hold a number of meetings to gather views.
7. In addition to the issues covered in this consultation, work is planned or underway on the many other issues needed to create the new food body.
8. The FSA will also run a consultation on proposed changes to food and feed safety legislation in Scotland, to a similar timescale to this consultation. This will ensure that the legislative basis for the new food body's regulatory and enforcement regime is as up to date as possible.
Email: Morris Fraser
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