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New Board members appointed at Food Standards Scotland

FSS has confirmed the appointment of four new Board members, who will help drive the organisation’s work in protecting consumers from food safety risks and promoting healthy eating.

Appointed by The Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd MSP, the new Board members, Mrs Christina Bichan, Dr Paula Charlesworth, Mr Phillip Couser and Miss Kate Richards, will all serve for four years.

Mr Couser took up the role on November 14, while Mrs Bichan, Dr Charlesworth and Miss Richards will begin their appointments from April 1 2023.

Heather Kelman, Chair of the FSS Board, commented: “I am extremely pleased with the quality of candidates who put themselves forward during the recruitment process and believe we have found excellent new Board members, who will really help to shape the work we are involved in going forward.

“The four new members will bring a range of perspectives to the organisation, complementing the skills and experience of the Board members who shall continue beyond March 2023, and hopefully filling some of the gaps we shall experience when our three founding Board members step down.

“This is an extremely important time for our organisation, as Scotland continues to feel the impacts of our departure from the EU and the implications this has on consumer safety, and the cost of living crisis affects many aspects of our relationship with food. Our new appointments’ breadth of expertise will help ensure that we continue to protect Scottish consumers and promote healthy eating during these challenging times.”

The new Board members -

Phillip Couser MBE has worked at senior levels in the NHS in Scotland since 2013. He is currently a non-executive director on the Board of NHS Lanarkshire. He was appointed as the Director of Data Driven Innovation in Public Health Scotland (PHS) on its formation in 2020; before retiring from this post in July 2021, he led PHS’s initial data and digital contribution to the pandemic response. Prior to PHS, Phillip was Director for Public Health and Intelligence in NHS National Services Scotland, leading both Information Services Division and Health Protection Scotland. From both these roles he brings a strong interest in public health and a passion for data driven and digitally enabled transformation. Through his work overseeing Health Protection Scotland, he was already very familiar with much of the work of Food Standards Scotland. 

Christina Bichan has over 20 years’ experience within the public sector, working both in a remote and rural island location and at a national level. With a Masters degree in Public Health and experience of leading performance, planning, quality improvement and governance functions within the NHS, Christina is based in Orkney and involved in a family owned food business.  Her interest lies in protecting and improving people’s health and wellbeing, and in the sustainability of remote and rural communities.

Kate Richards has breadth and depth of experience of agriculture and food production in the public and private sectors. A farm vet in Aberdeenshire, she was also an Official Veterinarian to the Grampian Country Food Group and other commercial businesses. Leaving clinical practice, Kate provided advice on livestock health to the UK subsidiary of a global pharmaceutical company before joining Defra as a farm animal welfare veterinary advisor where she was promoted to Scientific Secretary to SEAC, the scientific advisory committee formed in response to the growing BSE crisis. As well as veterinary expertise, Kate has extensive experience of communications and stakeholder engagement through her work in five Whitehall departments and as a Council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the veterinary regulator, and elected RCVS President 2021/22. Kate is a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Agriculture College (SAC), Commercial and the Moredun Research Institute Boards and has a passion for building connections and disseminating veterinary expertise for the benefit of public, as well as animal, health and welfare. 

Dr Paula Charlesworth is a registered dietitian with a PhD in nutrition and physiology. She has worked in frontline NHS services, research and academia and brings regulatory experience, having served terms as a professional partner for the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, sitting on their Fitness to Practise, Investigatory Committee and Appeals Panels. Dr Charlesworth is currently a lay member and director of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal and Lead Visitor for the Health and Care Professions Council, Education and Training Committee, reviewing academic programmes for education providers.

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The Board

The members of FSS are informally known as ‘the Board’. They are appointed by Scottish Ministers, through an open, public process.