News & Updates

The keyworkers helping to feed the nation

Sandy McDougall, Head of Operations

How frontline staff at Food Standards Scotland are keeping the supply of food going throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now more than ever, with current advice to stay at home and only go out for essentials, our basic needs are in the spotlight. And food, of course, is a key priority.

Food Standards Scotland is here to make sure food is safe, trusted and of the high standard we rightly expect, and all of our staff are critical in making this happen.

None more so than our workforce operating at the front line of the food chain, keeping food supply going.

These keyworkers are vital in helping to feed the nation. They include Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors, responsible for making sure food safety, hygiene and animal welfare standards are followed throughout production in cutting plants and slaughterhouses.

Head of Operations at Food Standards Scotland, Sandy McDougall, explains more about the important role these staff members carry out and the impact the current pandemic has had on their work.

“Our own key food workers have continued to work on the front line to deliver official controls – inspecting animals, carcasses and offal - throughout this situation, despite challenges and uncertainty.

“We are incredibly grateful for all they have done, and continue to do, to keep delivering the food we are familiar with and want on our tables during this time.

“The safety of consumers and our staff is our number one priority and we have taken steps to ensure this, including the additional measures around following Scottish Government physical (social) distancing guidelines in all meat establishments.

“We are pleased that we have been able to operate almost normally, and that the meat industry is adapting to the current environment."

Food Standards Scotland’s Head Veterinarian, Vikki Halliday, added:

“Despite everything going on in the world, our work in meat establishments is largely business as usual.

“The team has adapted superbly and should we need it, we have robust contingency measures in place to make sure operations continue.

“We have a pool of qualified and experienced Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors who are not currently working in meat establishments to call upon if needed.

“Our Veterinary and Operations Managers are working closely with industry to monitor operations in Scotland, and make sure official controls in slaughterhouses continue to be delivered.

“Therefore, we are especially proud of all of our Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors for rising to this additional challenge without hesitance, and wholeheartedly following the government guidance to ensure Scotland’s exemplar food safety standards continue.”

There is currently no evidence that food is a source of coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is very unlikely it can be transmitted through consuming food.

Government guidance for food businesses and their employees – such as adhering to physical (social) distancing - is aimed to prevent and control human to human transmission of the virus as direct contact is assumed to be the main transmission route.