Scottish Government backs plan for dedicated 'good food' watchdog

A statutory food commission would seek to provide scrutiny and advice.

Ministers back proposal to set up watchdog on Scotland’s ‘good food’ plans iStock

The Scottish Government has backed proposals to establish a statutory food commission.

It would have oversight of and would scrutinise the delivery of the Good Food Nation Bill.

The Bill is being brought forward by the Government and would require ministers to produce a national “good food” plan.

It would also require certain authorities to prepare and publish their own plans.

The move is part of a Government policy that by 2025, Scotland will be a “Good Food Nation“.

That involves ensuring that people have a keen interest in their food, are committed to serving and selling good food, and that everyone in Scotland has access to healthy, nutritious food.

It also seeks to ensure that Scottish produce is increasingly health and environmentally sound.

An amendment to the Bill was brought forward by Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess.

It would see the creation of a Food Commission which would be involved in scrutiny of the legislation, as well as making recommendations in relation to good food nation plans and progress reports.

The commission would also conduct research and provide advice to Scottish ministers.

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon confirmed on Tuesday that the Government would be supporting the amendment lodged by Burgess.

“Following careful consideration of all the options, I have decided that setting up a statutory Food Commission will strengthen the Good Food Nation Bill and provide further impetus on Scotland’s journey to being a Good Food Nation,” she said.

“I am clear that oversight is important and this amendment represents a balance between the need for independent scrutiny, while also taking into account the ongoing budgetary constraints, by creating a Food Commission that is streamlined, efficient and focussed on core tasks.”

Gougeon said she is “looking forward” to working closely with established organisations and bodies in the food and drink sector to achieve the Government’s ambitions.

Burgess welcomed the announcement by the cabinet secretary.

“I am delighted that we will now create a statutory food commission following constructive engagement with the cabinet secretary for rural affairs, fulfilling our shared commitment to a strong Good Food Nation Bill that lays the groundwork for the move towards a sustainable food system across Scotland,” she said.

“The new commission will play a key role, working with national and local government, farmers, crofters, the wider food industry and other stakeholders to build a good food nation across Scotland, encouraging good health, promoting local and environmentally friendly food, improving animal welfare, and supporting the transition of Scotland’s food system to net-zero.”

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