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.



9.1 The FSA works with a range of other organisations in a variety of ways to delivery its responsibilities. In particular, it has a detailed protocol to handle food related incidents. The new food body will also need to collaborate, cooperate and coordinate with other organisations. These will include the FSA, Defra, Department of Health, local authorities, the Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, relevant professional bodies such as the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland, academic institutions and research funders.

9.2 The new food body will establish appropriate working relationships with all relevant bodies, where necessary setting out contacts, service level agreements or memoranda of understanding, and ensuing in particular that a robust incident handling protocol will be established that will ensure consistency in appropriate and effective working with the FSA and with appropriate stakeholders, including the EU. This will be the subject of detailed discussion and negotiations during the programme to establish the new food body.

9.3 The consultation asked:

Question 13: Are there any additional or alternative relationships that you would suggest that would help the new food body achieve the Scottish Ministers' objective of longer, healthier lives for the people of Scotland? Please give details and reasons.

9.4 Sixty seven (53%) of the 126 respondents provided fresh commentary relating to this question. A few others stated that they had addressed the issues raised in their responses to previous questions.

9.5 Eighteen respondents from a range of sectors expressed support for the existing partnerships established by the FSA and recommended that these be adopted and built upon by the new food body. A recurring theme was that a key relationship will be between the new food body and the UK FSA, for example:

"We would stress the importance of the new food body - FSA relationship and hope that this would still allow Scotland to have a voice when negotiations are taking place at an EU level" (British Association for Shooting and Conservation).

9.6 One consumer representative body requested that attention be given to the relationship between the new food body and NHS Health Scotland so that the two organisations can ensure that potential overlaps in function can be addressed. An industry representative body recommended close partnership working across a range of bodies to ensure improved clarity and consistency in public health messaging.

9.7 Six respondents from a range of sectors stated simply that they did not envisage any further relationships needing to be developed with the new food body other than those stated in the consultation.

Recommendations for additional relationships


9.8 Ten respondents from a range of sectors recommended that working relationships with industry partners would contribute to achieving the objectives of longer, healthier lives for people in Scotland. One respondent remarked:

"This section of the consultation has a substantial omission of any indication that the new food body should work with the food industry. This industry is in fact one of the new food body's major partners. It is the food industry that actually delivers most of what the new food body is responsible for. It is only by working in conjunction with the food sector that the Ministers' objectives will be met" (Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation).

9.9 Three (PB, Cons, Prof A&U) of the supporters of stronger working links with industry also expressed caution that the new food body should retain independence of decision-making, and resist becoming unduly influenced by industry representatives.


9.9 There was cross-sector support (9 mentions) for the new food body to develop links with the education sector including Education Scotland with respect to the Curriculum for Excellence, schools, colleges and universities. One respondent argued:

"We hold the view that a return to 'Home Economic' lessons in schools and colleges would be money well spent. Even with the best systems there will always be a small element of risk, and educating children from the earliest practical age about the safe handling of food, adequate cooking, the maintenance of the cold chain and sell by/use by dates would all serve to help to meet the Scottish Ministers' objective" (Association of Meat Inspectors).

National advisory groups/Professional bodies/Committees

9.10 Nine respondents (four of them academics) recommended that the new food body forge links with expert advisors including the Public Health Nutrition Group (hosted by NHS Health Scotland), the Association of Public Analysts, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Parliamentary Committees, scientific advisory and the Health Inequalities Ministerial Task Force.

Third sector

9.11 Five third sector organisations were amongst the eight respondents who advocated partnership work between the new food body and third sector organisations to promote longer, healthier lives. BHF Scotland, Voluntary Health Scotland, Community Health Exchange, Scottish SPCA and Community Food and Health Scotland were amongst the organisations highlighted.


9.12 Six respondents from a range of sectors considered that efforts should go into developing stronger links with consumers and those experienced in engaging with consumers. Citizens Advice Scotland commented:

"We would like Citizens Advice Scotland to have a good working relationship with the new food body. The service took over the responsibility for the Consumer Direct helpline in April 2012, which is now the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline. Through the helpline, the service dealt with around 1,000 cases last year related to food and drink, involving issues with quality, food labelling and misleading advertising. The evidence could be used by the new food body to inform their priorities for action.

Citizens Advice Bureaux advise on relatively few issues directly related to food and drink, but commonly assist clients who are struggling to afford adequate food and have a poor diet as a result. Bureaux have an excellent understanding of the issues that make a healthy diet unaffordable for many clients and the consequence this has for them. This experience can be fed into the work of the new food body."

NHS regional boards

9.13 Six public bodies suggested that if the new food body takes a wider public health approach to improving diet, nutrition and health, then it will be appropriate to establish working relationships with the NHS boards in territorial areas.


9.14 According to five respondents from a range of sectors, the new food body will need to develop links with small food businesses which are integral to frontline delivery of services. The view of the Scottish Retail Consortium was:

"The current relationship between the FSA and our sister organisation the British Retail Consortium has been extremely important in ensuring a two-way flow of information.....it helps the FSA understand some of the practical implications of decision on retailers and consumers and provides a conduit for FSA to pass information quickly to the retail sector to ensure all decisions are quickly acted upon."

Non-Government Departments

9.15 Five respondents (four of them third sector organisations) recommended that links with appropriate NGOs will be beneficial for the new food body. SEPA and Scottish Water were identified in this respect.

Other suggestions

9.16 A small number of other suggestions were made by respondents for relationships which might help the new food body to achieve the Ministers' aims. These were:

  • Public Health England
  • Department of Work and Pensions (over the impact of welfare reforms)
  • Meteorological office
  • Ordinance survey
  • Crown Estates Commission
  • UK Hydrographic Office


Email: Karen McCallum-Smith

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