9. Following the UK Government's decision in 2010 to move responsibility for nutrition and food labelling and standards in England from the FSA to the Department of Health and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Scottish Ministers asked Professor Jim Scudamore to lead an independent review to assess the feasibility of establishing a stand-alone Scottish Food Standards Agency including a Scottish meat inspection delivery body, maintaining the Food Standard Agency (FSA)'s existing statutory objective to protect consumers. The Review Panel, and many stakeholders, felt that FSA UK had functioned well prior to the UK Government's Machinery of Government changes in 2010.
10. The Scudamore Review adopted two principles. Firstly as Scotland has unique and complex problems in relation to diet, obesity and certain food borne diseases, the Panel considered that food safety should not be divorced from nutrition and labelling and standards. Secondly there was general agreement that advice on food safety, nutrition and labelling should be independent and transparent and should be provided by an organisation which should remain at arms length from central Government.
11. The review panel also recommended that responsibility for the policy oversight and the operational delivery of meat official controls should remain independent from the Scottish Government, as well as the food industry. It should remain part of the wider food safety portfolio governance arrangements that are introduced in Scotland.
12. Scottish Ministers announced their decision to accept all of the recommendations in the Scudamore report on 27 June 2012.
13. More recently, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee concluded, in its report into contamination of beef published on 14 February 2013, that "Whilst Ministers are properly responsible for policy, the FSA's diminished role has led to a lack of clarity about where responsibility lies, and this has weakened the UK's ability to identify and respond to food standards concerns."
14. The new food body will further the Scottish Government's Strategic Objectives by:
- tackling poor diet and food-borne diseases to help people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives.
- supporting children's development through improved diet and nutrition, to improve life chances for children, young people and families at risk and help children have the best start in life.
- being more efficient and more responsive to Scottish circumstances than the current UK-wide FSA, helping to ensure that our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.
- supporting the growth of the Scottish food and drink industry by providing a strong, international reputation for safe, quality food and through proportionate and responsive regulation, thus helping to make Scotland an attractive place for doing business with, and securing inward investment from, our European neighbours and other trading partners at a global level.
- contributing to tackling inequalities through involvement in addressing food poverty.
Email: Morris Fraser
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