Two expert food groups will be established in Scotland to strengthen the meat-processing sector, in the wake of the horsemeat fiasco.

The first will advise on any changes required to the Food Standards Agency in Scotland, ahead of the creation of a new stand-alone Scottish food standards body.

This will be led by public health minister Michael Matheson following a consultation.

The second group will take forward the Scottish food industry’s work on traceability and provenance and red meat levy body Quality Meat Scotland will be tasked with extending the reach of the Scotch label into the processing sector.

Making the announcement in the Scottish Parliament this week (19 February), rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said it was the responsibility of those manufacturing and selling meat products, to ensure they contained what was advertised on the label.

“For NFUS, one priority will be the creation of a Scottish meat hygiene service that can meet its obligations in protecting the health of consumers but deliver that in a pragmatic way and at an affordable cost to the Scottish meat industry.”
Wendy Fleming, NFU Scotland food chain relationships manager

To date, all testing for horsemeat conducted in Scottish meat processing companies had been negative, with no evidence of horsemeat contamination in food supplied to public sector bodies such as hospitals, schools and prisons, said Mr Lochhead.

Improved food labelling was a priority and Mr Lochhead said he had asked for a meeting with EU health and consumer affairs commissioner Tonio Borg to highlight the issue.

NFU Scotland food chain relationships manager Wendy Fleming said a public consultation on a new food standards body offered a great opportunity to shape an agency to best meet Scotland’s needs.

“For NFUS, one priority will be the creation of a Scottish meat hygiene service that can meet its obligations in protecting the health of consumers but deliver that in a pragmatic way and at an affordable cost to the Scottish meat industry,” she said.

It was also vital that any Scottish body maintained a working relationship with both the Food Standards Agency in England and the European Food Standards Agency, she said.

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