Case study - Food Standards Scotland
As part of a series of social impact case studies, Geoff Ogle, Chief Executive of Food Standards Scotland, describes how openness and transparency help to increase consumer trust.
If you have values that include openness and transparency, then it’s incumbent on you live the values you set. The genesis for open board meetings came about with the setting up of Food Standards Agency way back in 2000 after the BSE crisis and the clear need to regain consumer trust in the food and drink sector.
For FSS, it wasn’t really a hard decision to continue with the concept which is reinforced by having a strategic outcome of being trusted by consumers. Gaining trust is not necessarily done through people attending meetings nor indeed reading about everything we do, but actually knowing that a degree of transparency exists does provide re-assurance.
But it’s not just the open board that’s key, it’s also about ensuring there is access to the papers and evidence that the board discusses and uses– our board papers are all published on the website – as well as creating opportunities at the end of each meeting where anyone attending can ask questions on anything they like.
In terms of the social impact now and for the future, with key issues such as tackling Scotland’s diet and nutrition, openness will be key. There are difficult messages and difficult challenges and when faced with that, sharing the context becomes vital. If consumers don’t know how and why the FSS Board has reached a decision it makes it somewhat harder to convince people of changes that they need to be make.
If consumers don’t know how and why the FSS Board has reached a decision it makes it somewhat harder to convince people of changes that they need to be make.
Organisationally, being open and transparent means consumer protection is always central to what we do and upper-most in our minds and I can’t envisage an scenario that would make us change how we operate. Without consumer trust we’re not effective; it’s that simple.