Scottish consumers were today assured that safer, more nutritional food remained a Government priority following a major cash injection for the Food Standards Agency Scotland.

Spending plans announced by the Scottish Executive mean the budget for the Agency in Scotland will rise from £3.7 million to £5.4 million over the next three years.

The £1.7 million increase will allow the Agency to:
  • improve consumer choice by ensuring the public are fully informed on major issues such as food labelling and genetically modified foods;

  • cut food poisoning levels by 20% by 2006, and in particular reduce salmonella in retail chicken by 50% over the next five years;

  • undertake major campaigns to improve diet and nutrition in Scotland;

  • improve partnership working with local authorities to ensure food hygiene failures are acted upon swiftly and effectively;

  • continue research into the causes of shellfish toxins, which have seriously damaged Scotland's scallop industry in recent years;

  • ensure both the Agency and the Scottish Food Advisory Committee continue to interact with the public in an open and accessible way.
Welcoming the investment, Dr George Paterson, Director of the Food Standards Agency Scotland, said:

"Today's announcement represents a major vote of confidence in the Agency and the extra money will allow us to drive forward a number of important areas of work. More research, better public information and less food poisoning are areas which are vital to achieving our primary objective of protecting the public and ensuring people can make an informed choice.

"The Food Standards Agency Scotland is a major beneficiary of today's spending plans but the real winners will be Scottish consumers. Increased spending on food safety, food hygiene and food standards will further restore the public's confidence in the food they eat. This additional cash will put a smile on everyone's plate."