Food Standards Scotland concerned over Retained EU Law Bill
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) airs major concerns over food safety if Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill is progressed in its current form.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is warning Scottish consumers of major risks in relation to food safety and standards if the Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill is progressed in its current form.
The Bill was announced in January 2022 and implemented to help facilitate easier amendment, replacement and repeal of retained EU law.
The Retained EU law currently enforces businesses to label for allergens and provide clear food information to consumers. Maximum permitted levels of chemical contaminants in foods must be set, as well as restricting the use of decontaminants on meat. In essence, this law obligates businesses to maintain minimum levels of hygiene and to recall food that is unsafe.
The FSS believe the Bill, which was published on 22 September 2022, would result in the removal of consumer protections relating to food which have previously applied in Scotland and the rest of the UK for many years.
Even if high legal standards continued to apply in Scotland, the agency says that the Internal Market Act means there would be no way of preventing goods produced under lower legal standards from elsewhere in the UK being sold in Scotland.
The Internal Market Act, introduced in 2020, was opposed by the FSS due to significant concerns voiced by the agency that were ignored.
“At the heart of what we do, is our responsibility to protect Scottish consumers. This Bill, as it currently stands, poses a significant risk to Scotland’s ability to uphold the high safety and food standards which the public expects and deserves,” said Heather Kelman, Chair of FSS.
“The purpose of regulators and regulations, especially in relation to food, is to protect consumers. This Bill confuses ‘red tape’ with consumer protection and indicates that the latter is now less of a priority and of less importance than when we were in the EU.”
Unless action is taken to save these standards in law and effectively maintain the protection of consumers – which would require a substantial resource in an extraordinarily short timeframe – these safeguards will disappear on 31 December 2023.
“Whichever way consumers voted on Brexit, they did not vote for a race to the bottom of lower standards and a de-regulated landscape that reduces consumer protection. We cannot imagine that this is what the UK Government intends,” added Kelman.