The Food Standards Agency has revealed that it sent warning letters to almost a quarter of Scottish food shops and restaurants over the contravention of health and hygiene regulations.

The report, presented to the Scottish Food Advisory Committee, revealed that during the course of 1999 the FSA had found it necessary to close down 73 premises where food was being served, and that 32 remain the subject of ongoing prosecution.

Sir John Arbuthnott, chairman of the FSA, said that all retailers who ignored the regulations would suffer the legal consequences. Meanwhile the Scottish Food Advisory Committee responded by promising to increase consumer confidence by cracking down on those who broke hygiene regulations.

This latest report comes in the wake of the FSA’s vow to legally enforce the licensing scheme for butchers, which came into action following the deaths of 21 people in Wishaw from an E-coli 0157 outbreak in 1996.