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Scottish Government report published after Cumbernauld high burgers are found to be tainted

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 15:16 GMT on Monday, July 8th, 2013.

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A REPORT looking at the horsemeat scandal in Scotland has been published.

The Scottish Government commissioned the expert advisory group, which was led by former Chief Vet Professor Jim Scudamore, to identify lessons learned from the horsemeat scandal.

Published on Thursday, the report makes a number of recommendations intended to improve the food safety and standards regime in Scotland, although the report concluded that the issue was well handled in Scotland; making a number of key recommendations to the Scottish Government, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland and local authorities.

The recommendations cover the introduction of improved risk assessment procedures for identifying new areas of risk, testing and surveillance and the need to ensure appropriate statutory powers and sanctions are in place to deal with food standards incidents. 

Commenting, Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson, who commissioned the report said: “I’d like to thank Professor Scudamore and the expert advisory group for their hard work in producing this comprehensive report. 

“It’s reassuring the see that the group found that there was widespread agreement that the issue had been well handled in Scotland, and that all parties had worked well together.

“However, the study also found that a wide spectrum of lessons could be identified from the horsemeat issue. From developing a better understanding of the supply chain, to improving surveillance and consumer engagement, we must now work to make sure that we can deliver the best possible food standards and safety regime for Scotland.” 

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The Scottish Government and FSA in Scotland will now carefully consider the report’s recommendations in determining the scope of the new food body. We will publish our response to the report after the Summer recess. 

Professor Scudamore added: “The response to the issue was well coordinated and delivered through the partnerships between the FSA in Scotland and the local authorities along with support from all stakeholders. Our recommendations will build on this to achieve improvements in a number of areas.

“The ability to identify potentially fraudulent behaviour and prevent it occurring is an important objective. Methods for the detection of fraud are equally important and if an issue such as horsemeat is detected it is essential that contingency plans are in place to provide a rapid response to protect consumers”.

The report took evidence from North Lanarkshire Council, who had to deal with the issue of horsemeat being found at Cumbernauld high school, in February, this year. 

At the time, North Lanarkshire Council launched an immediate investigation into frozen burger supplies, dating back to last year; ensuring high food standards were restored in the high school, with a council spokesperson calling the situation “unacceptable”.

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