The local authorities are:
Dr George Paterson, Director, Food Standards Agency Scotland said:
"Concerns have been raised in the past about consistency of food safety and food hygiene enforcement by local authorities. For example, does a restaurant in Edinburgh undergo the same scrutiny as a restaurant in Stornoway? It is our job in the Agency, in partnership with local authorities, to make sure the same standards are being applied across the board so that no matter where you live in Scotland you can be assured of the highest food safety and standards.
"The new audit scheme will include an examination of the levels of inspection of food premises by the local authority, the arrangements they have in place to sample and analyse food, their management controls, the advice they give to food businesses and consumers, and also how they deal with complaints.
"The first eight audits set the ball rolling on a programme that will enable local authorities to build on their strengths and correct their weaknesses. More importantly, by publishing the results of the audits, the Agency will enable the public to see just how well they are being protected."
A team of auditors will scrutinise the food enforcement activity of local authorities throughout Scotland to ensure they are adequately guarding public health in relation to food safety. The audit scheme will assess each authority's conformance against specified standards with the aim of improving consistency, sharing best practice and tackling problems that hinder effective enforcement.
The Food Standards Agency Scotland proposes to carry out partial audits of all 32 authorities in Scotland on an annual basis and ensure that all are fully audited over a three year span.
The Agency chose eight local authorities to be audited between July and August which represent a cross-section of the different types of local authority, geographical location and inspection and sampling levels.
The final audit report for each local authority together with a copy of the agreed action plan will be placed on the Agency's website (www.foodstandards.gov.uk)
The eight local authorities will be audited between July and August 2001.
The Food Standards Agency has powers to monitor and audit local authorities under the Food Standards Act 1999.
The Local Authority Enforcement Framework Agreement was published and issued to local authorities on 29 September 2000. The Framework Agreement set a new national standard for enforcing food law with increased public accountability by: