Scots will continue to have an appetite for porridge and kippers after yesterday’s independence vote, but also remaining despite the outcome are Scotland’s food safety challenges. Foodborne illnesses strike about 132,000 Scots annually, sending 2,330 to hospitals and causing about 50 deaths. Who gets the bill for those damages — about 140 million British pounds a year — was part of what was at stake in yesterday’s historic election. E. coli O157: H7 infections occur more often in Scotland (about 250 cases a year) than in any other area of the United Kingdom. The Lanarkshire outbreak of 1996 is especially well remembered by Scots for its 18 deaths. Campylobacter outbreaks also occur in Scotland at a higher rate than they do in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Scotland’s food and beverage, food manufacturing, agricultural, sea fishing and aquaculture industries contribute more than 12 billion pounds to the UK economy and employ more than 113,000 Scots. Scots have their own problem with obesity and poor diets. Bakery, fish, meat, and dairy processing are significant sectors in Scotland. However, the country’s fruit and vegetable processing is tiny at just 0.5 percent of its total food manufacturing. The Operation Groups of UK’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) began transferring line management responsibility for operations staff in Scotland to FSA in Scotland back in October 2012. Also, the director of FSA in Scotland began chairing the Scottish Meat Delivery Group for more local control over meat operations. Since late 2013, the Scottish government has worked on establishing a new food regulatory body. “The new food body for Scotland is being established that will be responsible for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labeling, and meat inspection policy and operational delivery,” according to FSA. Tim Bennett, FSA’s interim chairman, wrote a Scottish lawmaker in late 2013 suggesting some “safeguards” that might be considered to ensure that the new food oversight entity is independent. One idea advanced by Bennett was to make sure the new food entity can publish information “without first seeking the permission of (government) Ministers.” Also, Bennett wants non-executive appointments to represent the public interest, “not a particular group or organization.” Finally, Bennett, who is Welsh, sought assurances that FSA would have a close and cooperative relationship with a new Scottish food body. Yesterday’s election will probably go along way toward determining if that happens, or not.