Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said it was creating the unit and recruiting specialists after recommendations following the horsemeat scandal in 2013.
The Scottish Food and Crime Incident Unit (SFCIU) will have the power to take enforcement action but local authorities and the police will retain primary responsibility for food fraud.
FSS chief executive Geoff Ogle said: “The unit is a vital and positive step in improving Scotland’s capability and capacity in relation to tackling food crime.
‘Sharing remains critical’
“Information sharing remains critical to unearthing and dealing with food fraud, and we continue to work closely with a number of partners both in Scotland and across the UK, including Police Scotland, local authorities, the Food Standards Agency [FSA], and the food industry itself.”
View from Scottish government
“This should help to reassure consumers the length and breadth of Scotland that our food is safer than ever.”
- Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government’s rural affairs secretary
Public food body FSS, which was established in April, agreed the remit of the unit last week and will build its capacity over coming months.
The Scottish government’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the unit will provide the FSS will with expertise to tackle food fraud.
‘Food safer than ever’
“This should help to reassure consumers the length and breadth of Scotland that our food is safer than ever,” Lochhead said.
“When it comes to the food we eat we must put public safety first and foremost. Establishing the new unit sends out a clear message that food crime will not be tolerated in this country.”
The rest of the UK already has a Food Crime Unit set up following Professor Chris Elliot’s report into the horsemeat scandal.
The head of the FSA’s Food Crime Unit Andy Morling will outline his priorities at Food Manufacture Group’s food safety conference on Tuesday (September 29).
For more information on the conference click here.
Scottish Food Crime Unit at a glance
- To tackle fraud and unsafe practices in food chain
- Food Standards Scotland agreed remit last week
- Created in the wake of the horsemeat scandal