A new Scottish Food Crime and Incident Unit (SFCIU) is to be set up by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to tackle food fraud.
At its meeting on 16 September the FSS Board agreed the remit of the new unit which will be responsible for surveillance and detection of fraud and deliberate
non-compliance within the food chain, and is being set up as a result of the recommendations of the Scudamore Expert Advisory Group which was established by Scottish Ministers in February 2013 in the wake of the horsemeat incident.
The Unit will also have the power to take enforcement action where necessary although primary responsibility for dealing with food fraud at a local level will remain with local authorities, and where serious organised crime is involved, the investigation will be referred to the Police for further action.
Geoff Ogle, Chief Executive of FSS said:
“Since Food Standards Scotland was created as the new public food body for Scotland, we’ve been working to develop and establish the new Unit. The Unit is a vital and positive step in improving Scotland’s capability and capacity in relation to tackling food crime.
“Information sharing remains critical to unearthing and dealing with food fraud, and we continue to work closely with a number of partners both in Scotland and across the UK, including Police Scotland, local authorities, the Food Standards Agency, and the food industry itself.”
The new Unit will develop its capability over the coming months, and Food Standards Scotland is currently recruiting for additional specialists to add to the existing Incidents team within the organisation.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, said:
“When it comes to the food we eat we must put public safety first and foremost. Establishing the new unit sends out a clear message that food crime will not be tolerated in this country.
“We have an excellent reputation for food and drink and it’s important that we safeguard, promote and enhance that. Food Standards Scotland will now have specific expertise to tackle food fraud and I welcome the progress made in putting this important resource in place. This should help to reassure consumers the length and breadth of Scotland that our food is safer than ever.”
Notes for Editors:
Food Standards Scotland
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) was established on 1 April 2015 by the Food (Scotland) Act 2015 as a non-ministerial office, part of the Scottish Administration, alongside, but separate from, the Scottish Government.
FSS is mainly funded by government, with a budget of £15.7m agreed within the Food (Scotland) Act 2015, but also charges fees to recover costs for regulatory functions.
The organisation is based in new premises in Aberdeen, and has approximately 150 office and field-based staff.
The primary concern of FSS is consumer protection – making sure that food is safe to eat, ensuring consumers know what they are eating and improving nutrition. FSS’s stated vision is to deliver a food and drink environment in Scotland that benefits, protects and is trusted by consumers.
The objectives of FSS as set out in the Food (Scotland) 2015 Act are to:
Protect public from risks to health which may arise in connection with the consumption of food
Improve the extent to which members of the public have diets which are conducive to good health
Protect the other interests of consumers in relation to food