Horizon scanning

A structured procedure enabling the detection of emerging future risks to the Scottish food chain.

In order to ensure surveillance activities are prioritised and targeted effectively, we developed a structured procedure for horizon scanning that enables the detection of emerging and future risks to the Scottish food chain.

Horizon Scanning has been defined by UK Government as: “A systematic examination of information to identify potential threats, risks, emerging issues and opportunities”

At Food Standards Scotland, horizon scanning is used to:

  • identify and monitor trends and issues that may require new intervention approaches for improving food safety, standards and crime prevention
  • detect new and emerging risks which may impact on food safety and standards in Scotland
  • help ensure that our policies are resilient to different future environments

We use a variety of information sources for horizon scanning, including publicly available as well as proprietary sources, direct engagement with other government departments, local authorities, and industry stakeholders.

Valuable intelligence leads for surveillance are also generated through enforcement activity and incident investigation. The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) has been working with Local Authorities through the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee’s (SFELC’s) National Food Crime Advisory Unit to promote the reporting of suspected criminal activity and the sharing of intelligence. SFCIU is also developing improved systems for managing incidents and the recording, analysis and dissemination of intelligence generated by FSS and key partners, which will support the targeting of investigations and enforcement approaches. The launch, in 2016, of the Scottish Food Crime Hotline has provided an additional route for channelling intelligence into our surveillance system.

To date the outputs from our horizon scanning activities have been used to :

  • identify priorities for FSS and LA sampling programmes
  • inform the development of guidance for laboratories and businesses
  • alert relevant stakeholders to emerging issues