Scotland is set to tighten food production laws to protect consumers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

The legislation – to be included in the Scottish Government’s Food Standards Scotland Bill that will create the new food body for Scotland – will give officers enforcement powers to seize food that does not meet food standards or labelling rules.

It will also be compulsory to report non-compliance with food standards regulations which cover food fraud, according to a statement released by the Scottish Government.

The move is one of a range of measures announced in response to two expert group reports that were commissioned in February as the horsemeat scandal was unfolding.

The groups led by former chief vet Jim Scudamore and Scotland Food and Drink chairman Ray Jones, looked at food and feed safety standards traceability and labelling in the red meat sector.

Other immediate action taken by the Scottish Government and partners includes:

  • Additional Food Standards Agency (FSA) Scotland funding to extend meat testing, with work underway to enable the identification of Scotch branded beef in future.
  • The preparation of additional guidance on public sector food procurement in Scotland.
  • Asking retailers for more clarity in how they label red meat products as Scottish.
  • £1 million extra support given earlier this year to Quality Meat Scotland to strengthen consumer awareness of the provenance that underpins the Scotch label.
  • A further £1 million investment, also announced earlier this year, for the development of a multi species livestock database to improve traceability.

Scotland’s public health minister Michael Matheson welcomed the expert group reports.

“The horsemeat scandal severely dented consumer confidence here in Scotland and across Europe.

We need to be able to trust the food we buy. We must know what is in our food and it must be safe to eat,” Mr Matheson said.

“Our vision for Scotland’s new food body is that its primary focus will be consumer protection. It will make sure food in Scotland is safe to eat and it will improve the diet and nutrition of people in Scotland. Given the importance of food safety, and the value of the Scottish food industry to our economy, we must ensure we have a robust regulatory regime for food in Scotland,” he added.

For more on this topic

More on the horsemeat scandal

Ray Jones’ report recommendations

Jim Scudamore report in full