What has Food Standards Scotland been doing to prepare for Brexit?
Food Standards Scotland continues preparations for Brexit to ensure that whatever happens as a consequence of leaving the EU, there is no reduction in the level of protection to consumers in Scotland.
FSS, with its current remit and powers, is best placed to ensure the continued protection of public health in relation to food. This remains our priority.
There is a programme of work underway in FSS to ensure consumers continue to be protected after Brexit.
The key activities we have undertaken to date include:
- Working with colleagues in Scotland and across the UK to bring EU food law into UK law, and making changes to domestic food law to make sure it continues to work after the UK leaves the EU.
- Talking to consumers to better understand their views about Brexit and food.
- Commissioning research to understand the potential impacts of a no-deal Brexit on Scottish food chains.
- Working with others to develop proposals for UK-wide frameworks on how we may work collaboratively across the UK in future.
- Contributing to UK-wide research which will assist in assessing UK laboratory capacity for food and feed purposes.
- Considering what capability and capacity might be required for Scotland in delivering statutory functions currently administered by EU institutions.
What happens in the event of a no deal?
Should there be a ‘no-deal’ exit, Food Standards Scotland is contributing to Scottish Government’s wider contingency planning arrangements. We have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we can continue to support a food and drink environment in Scotland that protects consumers, regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
What happens to food law after Brexit?
The majority of food law currently comes from the EU and has served us well for many years. We’ve been working with the Scottish and UK Governments to make sure the same legal standards and regulations apply to food should the UK leave the EU. This has involved a lengthy and complex process to implement ‘statutory instruments’ (legislation) bringing existing EU laws over into UK law so that there is a smooth transition, and that standards applied in the EU are carried over to the UK. These proposals have been thoroughly reviewed by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. We have also been consulting on, and making changes to, some domestic food law (Scottish Statutory Instruments), to ensure that food law continues to work effectively after exit.
Working with others across the UK, Food Standards Scotland is making good progress in the development of proposals for UK-wide frameworks which may be needed to ensure co-operation in areas of food and feed hygiene and safety, nutrition and labelling across the UK when the UK leaves the EU. These frameworks cover policy areas for which FSS has lead responsibility in Scotland, and involve liaison with lead UK Government departments such as the Food Standards Agency, Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Food and Rural Affairs. These proposals will need to be approved by Ministers across the UK.
Have the public’s views been taken into account?
Consumers have told us that they are concerned about food becoming more expensive after Brexit, and that food availability or choice may also be affected. Whilst it isn’t possible to predict exactly what might happen as a result of the UK leaving the EU with no deal, it is possible that disruption to well-established supply chains could have an impact on the food environment that consumers are currently used to. FSS is working with other parts of government and with the food industry to understand these impacts and to ensure that whatever action is taken by the food industry and others, the public’s interests continue to be prioritised.
Food Standards Scotland is consulting on its last set of amendments to consumer-focused food and feed law as part of a significant amount of work to ensure consumers remain legally protected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This consultation closes on 9 August.
FSS Brexit board papers
Since 2016, FSS has been discussing and planning for Brexit and its possible implications for public health, the food supply chain and our organisation, including the many non-UK EU nationals who make an important contribution as part of our workforce, including many of our many Official Veterinarians from other parts of the EU who provide a vital service to ensure animal welfare and food safety in abattoirs and slaughterhouses.
Some of those discussions are captured in the Board papers below:
Health and Sport Committee papers and reports
FSS has also been invited to give evidence to Health and Sport Committees where the possible impact of Brexit on food has been discussed and analysed:
18 December 2018
6 November 2018
Below are some helpful additional sources of information and assistance for businesses and consumers, to ensure we are all as prepared for Brexit as we can be.
'5 essential steps to prepare for a no-deal Brexit' has been prepared by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and Business Gateway.