APA News

  • Food Standards Scotland Board Consider Access to Laboratories

    At its Board Meeting on the 15th June Food Standards Scotland (FSS) discussed a paper putting the case for a nationally funded delivery model for official food and feed laboratory services (PA labs). The paper acknowledged the key role of these laboratories in protecting public health and safeguarding consumer interests, and referenced the reports and reviews that have made the case for a strong public sector system over the years. It noted the lack of any formal relationship between FSS and the four local authorities which own the laboratories (Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh). The paper focused on two possible delivery models, both of which would require additional funds to counteract the effects of the long term underinvestment in the Public Analyst laboratories.

    One would be a shared services model with ring-fenced funding, the other a national service with laboratories operating as a single entity managed by FSS or the Scottish Government. With this model it would be important to ensure that the services that the labs provide to local authorities and other clients are not compromised. Previous reviews have recommended a shared services model, but none have been implemented.

    The unanimous view of the Board was that action was needed to ensure food and feed laboratory services were safeguarded. It was agreed that the Chair make a formal approach to Scottish Ministers to make them aware of the key role of PA labs and the risks associated with any further loss of services.

    Another paper  on the delivery of food controls by local authorities noted that, whilst the number of environmental health officers (EHO) required to effectively deliver all food law and EU exit requirements is 380 FTE, only 202 are in post and 85 of these are over 60 years of age. The maximum number of individuals due to qualify in the next 4 years is 37. An FSS audit revealed that two local authorities are “at the point of failure” in terms of delivering official controls.