A Healthier Scotland: Creating a New Food Body: Consultation Analysis

Full report of the analysis of the written responses to the Scottish Government consultation on the role and remit of the proposed new food body.


12.1 The consultation asked:

Question 16: Do you have any further comments or suggestions on the creation of the new food body for Scotland that are not covered by any of the previous questions?

12.2 Fifty (40%) of the 126 respondents took this opportunity to provide further commentary. Their comments are summarised below in order of the number of respondents who highlighted each topic.

Clarity of role of new food body within UK and EU

12.3 Eight respondents from a range of sectors provided commentary on the future operation of the new food body within the UK and the EU. Of key concern was the need for clarity over the relationship between the new food body and the UK authority as the sole central competent authority. Queries were raised over how the new food body will operate when negotiations at EU level are with the UK Government. Comments included:

"Whilst FSA Scotland plays an important role within Scotland, it is clear to Scottish food businesses that the main decisions which will continue to affect them will be taken at a European level where Scotland is not recognised as a Member State. Rather, the FSA UK will continue to play this role and we are therefore unclear on where the new, separate Scottish body would sit within that framework and what value would be added to businesses in Scotland" (Scottish Retail Consortium).

12.4 Caution was expressed over Scotland becoming isolated from other jurisdictions:

"A major drawback we see is that the new food body may make recommendations to introduce laws that are not reflected in the remainder of the UK. We believe this would be a disincentive for UK companies wanting to invest in new and existing Scottish facilities or place contracts with Scottish food producers, particularly if they have to supply certificates confirming they are in compliance with Scottish law whilst being processed under possible differing UK law" (Scottish Whisky Association).

"Should Scotland become independent from the rest of the UK following the referendum in 2014, there may be a temptation to establish a new food body which is wholly independent from the rest of the UK. This would be an expensive mistake. While Scotland may become an independent country, the issues of food safety and nutrition are common across the UK, Europe and many parts of the western world. We should not seek to duplicate advisory committees or other mechanisms currently shared across the UK. Instead we should develop partnership arrangements that allow us to share rather than duplicate resource" (Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen).

Licensing of food businesses

12.5 Whilst five respondents (including four local authorities) considered the creation of the new food body to be the ideal opportunity to consider licensing of food businesses, which would provide a means of prior approval to determine that a food business is able to operate safely and in line with legal requirements, this proposal was opposed by a professional association on the grounds that it would be another cost burden to an industry which they considered to be already overregulated.

Tacking inefficiencies

12.6 The creation of the new food body also provided the opportunity for reviewing operations to promote efficiency of practice according to five respondents from a range of sectors. For example, one local authority considered that resources could be used more effectively and efficiently if inspection regimes are revised; two respondents (Bus, Prof A&U) suggested that further use could be made of outsourced resources; and rationalising of functions such as meat inspections was raised (Prof A&U).

Honesty and transparency

12.7 Five respondents from five different sectors emphasised their view that honest and transparency in working will be crucial for the new food body. Two respondents (Bus, IRB) recommended that mechanisms are built into the operational and administrative frameworks for the new body to minimise or remove opportunities for conflicts of interest or dishonesty. One academic requested that meetings, or at least minutes of meetings of the new food body, are accessible to the public.

Maintaining effective relationships

12.8 Where existing relationships between the FSA and other bodies are perceived to be working well they were valued, with four respondents (three of these industry representative bodies) recommending that these continue to be nurtured.

Role in public health nutrition strategy

12.9 Four respondents (including three public bodies) called for the new food body to take the lead role in driving forward a joined-up public health nutrition strategy across Scotland.

Tackling obesity

12.10 Three respondents (LA, Third, Prof A&U) identified tackling obesity as the most significant challenge facing the new food body, and urged that wider contexts which influence choices should be addressed along with greater control over food industry in areas such as advertising and nutritional declaration.

Consistency across local authorities

12.11 Three respondents (LA, LA, Ind) raised what they perceived to be inconsistencies across Scottish local authorities in their operations relating to food issues. One (LA) argued that robust auditing processes by the new food body would assist in promoting consistency; another (LA) suggested that the Food Law Code of Practice would be useful for driving forward consistency.


12.12 Three respondents (IRB, IRB, Ind) urged that appropriate resources are allocated to the new food body, with one industry representative body requesting continued funding for the Healthy Living Programme.

Other comments

12.13 Other comments were made by only one or two respondents:

  • The perspective of small businesses should be considered throughout, particularly in ensuring they do not incur costs as a result of complex regulatory regimes (Bus, IRB).
  • Mixed views between industry representative bodies on whether the new food body should encompass issues of sustainability with one arguing that other bodies are more appropriately placed to be involved in this, and another suggesting that the new food body should educate the public on environmentally sustainable diets.
  • Attention should be given to harmonising the terms and conditions of staff transferred to the new food body, with Prospect Trade Union expressing willingness to be involved early in the discussions over arrangements.
  • The Scottish Government needs to play a part in ensuring employees in the food sector are paid a living wage (perhaps stipulating this in procurement policy) (Prof A&U).
  • Regulations should be harmonised as much as possible with those within the wider EU in order to maintain Scotland's competitiveness (Bus).
  • The new food body should work more closely with Scottish laboratories and research bodies to develop and retain expertise (Bus).
  • Low cost, high quality training (e.g. web-based training) developed by FSA should be continued as this will help to promote consistency and ensure officer competencies are developed (LA).
  • Information should be provided by the new food body in a range of formats as appropriate for the needs of different sectors of the population (Third).


Email: Karen McCallum-Smith

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