Scotland should be given its own standalone food regulator, according to a major report into the future of the Food Standards Agency north of the border.
The Scudamore review, headed up by former UK chief vet Jim Scudamore, was commissioned by the Scottish government after the FSA lost responsibility for nutrition and health claims in England to the Department of Health following the 2010 general election.
Scudamore’s panel of experts found two feasible options for the future of the FSA in Scotland: an enhanced Scottish FSA with greater autonomy but remaining part of the overall FSA; or a new, independent standalone body for Scotland.
The benefits were “finely balanced” between the two options, the panel said in its report. Ultimately, most members came out in favour of the standalone option.
“The majority felt that the standalone model would allow more flexibility to respond quickly to Scottish needs,” the panel said. “It would enable the new body to take the most relevant and necessary decisions for Scotland without being subsidiary to UK priorities.”
The panel also considered the future of meat inspections in Scotland and recommended Scotland-specific elements of the FSA’s meat inspection service should be transferred to the FSA in Scotland, regardless of whether it was run by a standalone body or an enhanced Scottish FSA.
Quality Meat Scotland welcomed the panel’s views on meat inspections. Chairman Jim McLaren said the introduction of a separate meat inspection service for Scotland made “total sense” in terms of efficiencies and costs.
“This news will be welcomed by Scottish processors up and down the country, many of whom are enduring very tight and, in some cases, knife-edge margins,” he said.