The Food (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in March 2014. It passed through Stage 3 on 9 December and Royal Assent was granted and lodged on 13 January 2015. Details of the proceedings through Parliament can be found on the website of the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill creates Food Standards Scotland, a new, independent body which will replace the UK-wide Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland. The Bill establishes new food law provisions for the Scottish Ministers:
- Statutory power to seize and detain food which does not comply with food information law (eg mislabelled food)
- Statutory offence of failure to report breaches of food information law
- Statutory scheme to be introduced at some future point, by regulation, for the mandatory display by food businesses of inspection outcomes
- New administrative sanctions so that offences will be dealt with more quickly and at less cost than prosecution
The decision to create a new body followed changes made at UK level which split up responsibility for food standards and the subsequent recommendations of the Scudamore review (Future arrangements to secure food standards and safety in Scotland) in 2012 which was commissioned by the Scottish Government.
Following the horsemeat food fraud scandal in early 2013, Ministers asked Professor Scudamore to convene another Expert Advisory Group to make recommendations on lessons learned. Many of these recommendations will be taken forward by the new food body.
Food Standards Scotland will new be made a non-ministerial office of the Scottish Administration by Order in February 2015 and will take on its responsibilities formally on 1 April 2015