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Food Standards Scotland to Launch on April 1

Food Standards Scotland is set to start on April 1.

The Food (Scotland) Bill to set up the stand-alone body passed the Scottish Parliament in early December and received Royal Assent — meaning that the queen formally agrees to make the bill into law — on Jan. 13.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) will take over the work of the UK-wide Food Standards Agency’s division in Scotland and will tackle nutritional health, in addition to regulating food safety.

“Attaining Royal Assent was the final hurdle in the primary legislation process towards a new food body for Scotland and marks the end of a mammoth task,” wrote Fiona Comrie on the Creating a New Food Body project blog.

Plans for the new agency arose after the UK government transferred nutrition and food labeling in England from the Food Standards Agency to the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Scottish Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the changes in England “removed significant capacity” in the agency’s nutrition and labeling functions for Scotland and needed to be addressed.

It is estimated that foodborne illness affects about 132,000 Scots each year, resulting in 2,330 hospitalizations, 50 deaths, and £140 million in costs.

The profile of foodborne disease varies across the UK, with higher rates of particular illnesses reported in the Scottish population compared to other countries. For example, E. coli O157 is consistently reported more frequently in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

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