The Scottish government has announced that it is planning to implement new food safety laws aimed at protecting consumers in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
The legislation is to be included as part of the Scottish Government's Food Standards Scotland Bill, which will create a new body for the country and give officers new powers to seize food that either does not meet proper standards or labelling rules.
The move is one of a number of measures that have been announced in response to two expert groups that were commissioned following the horse meat scandal.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson responded by asking the Expert Advisory Group, led by formed chief vet Professor Jim Scudamore, to investigate food and feed safety and standards in Scotland
This was only one part of what has been a widespread response from the government, which has also pledged to offer extra funding to the Food Standards Agency Scotland, allowing it to extend meat testing.
It is also preparing additional guidance on public sector food procurement in Scotland, while also asking asking retailers for more clarity in how they label red meat products as Scottish.
Public health minister Michael Matheson said: “Our vision for Scotland’s new food body is that its primary focus will be consumer protection. It will make sure food in Scotland is safe to eat and it will improve the diet and nutrition of people in Scotland.
"Given the importance of food safety, and the value of the Scottish food industry to our economy, we must ensure we have a robust regulatory regime for food in Scotland.”
Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said added that as the horse meat scandal made its way across Europe, consumers felt the need to turn to what they thought was locally-sourced Scottish meat, perceiving it to be safer.
Mr Lochhead said that while it was a tremendous vote of confidence for the Scottish meat supply, there was still much to be done in order to repair the damaged reputation of the meat industry as a whole.
Lochhead added, "The EU needs to take this issue seriously as consumers need to be able to trust what they buy, and it is important that their confidence is not undermined by deliberate fraud and food mislabeling."