The new team has been set up jointly by the Food Standards Agency Scotland and Scottish Councils working through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and follows the publication of figures earlier this year which showed almost a quarter of premises in Scotland breached hygiene and safety regulations in 1999.
Jim Thomson, Assistant Director of the Food Standards Agency Scotland, said:
"When we revealed in September that one in four food establishments were falling below acceptable safety standards, we promised to work closely with environmental health officers to crackdown on poor hygiene. Last month we announced a new Framework for Local Authority Enforcement and today we are unveiling a new, powerful body which will help ensure environmental health departments are using their powers to the full. The Joint Audit Board Scotland will closely monitor local authorities and work with them to improve performance where deficiencies are identified. This will ensure greater consistency of enforcement across Scotland, which will benefit consumers, industry and enforcers alike."
Tim Stone, COSLA Head of Policy, said:
"The Joint Audit Board is a great example of the benefits of joint working. By pooling resources the Agency and Councils will be able to provide a much higher level and standard of audit."
The Local Authority Food Law Enforcement Activities in Scotland report was published in September. This showed that almost a quarter of food premises in Scotland breached hygiene and safety regulations in 1999. A copy of the report by going to www.foodstandards.gov.uk/scotland/agenda000906.htm
The Framework for Local Authority Enforcement was published in November and set out new standards for environmental health departments to adhere to. Copies are available from the telephone number below.
The Joint Audit Board Scotland will start work in April 2001.