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We Asked, You Said, We Did

Here are some of the issues we have consulted on and their outcomes.

We Asked

We asked for your comments and views on the 1st Food Standards Scotland Science, Evidence and Information Strategy.

You Said

 

R1: I believe that the SEI strategy is appropriate and well thought-out. Only one information I would like to see (emphasised) would have been "how" some of the outcomes and priorities would be reaches. In particular, how the relationship/collaboration with other (governmental) institutions and independent responsibilities could help achieve these objectives and outcomes would be helpful to mention. (University of Stirling)

R2: The strategy as proposed appears to be complete and appropriate for the role of the agency. The values are sensible, but as has occurred recently with the E. coli-cheese outbreak, are obviously not a given, e.g. ‘Authority’ relating to Trust. This implies that complying with the values is not an end-point, rather an ongoing attainment. The outcomes are entirely appropriate. A minor comment for ‘Working with others’ (pg 5), point 6 ‘build and maintain strategic partnerships & networks’. I would have thought that linking with other food agencies across Europe/elsewhere is critical to ensure a wide enough outlook, rather than ‘where possible’? The approach to Risk Management appears to be entirely appropriate and sensible. (James Hutton)

R3: Overall it is a good document, although I do wonder whether the average person in Scotland will understand or appreciate much of the content. If the document is for the average person its too long and needs an executive summary written in lay terms Page 1, the Act defines the objectives. these are understandable (drink might be included along with food?), and the FSS strategic outcomes are appropriate. I would like to read a bit more on the outcomes, for example when you say FSS is a trusted organization you are for example implying "obtaining and providing the correct information in a clear and timely manner so that no member of the public etc can question you as being biased or non-transparent? page 2. I have difficulty with SDSD. While good dietary recommendations and the basis for these are appropriate I do not believe that it is a government to formulate a plan to rebalance anyone's diet. It smacks of interference. If someone wants to consume a deep fried mars bar everyday for lunch, that's there business not governments. So you need to be very careful what you imply here I do not see any external expert committees being formed to provide consensus input. Is it only the people at FSS who will make decisions? if so who are they, and what are their credentials. There is no indication of consumer involvement in the decision making processes The prioritizing science, evidence & information is ok: # 5 is perhaps the most critical and requires constant review Enhancing communication: a critical component. personally I find such social media as twitter of limited value. This tends to be knee jerk responses. FSS would be better to consider the use for example of youtube video's. In the USA this is the most informative and efficient technology that can be viewed on smartphones. Building strategic partnerships.. good idea, who is going to do it. from personal experience it is difficult to obtain let alone continue. It requires constant interactions. Not a job for the timid. Governance page 7. Table excellent if you have a science background. Might be too detailed for the general public, and will they care to read the detail. The first column is written somewhat in lay terms. page 8/9 again v. good and clear if you are a scientist, not so much for the lay person the figure on page 9. again v. good if you are a scientist. (USDA).

R4: Thank you for providing the opportunity to comment on the Food Standards Scotland Science, Evidence and Information Strategy.

The strategy is welcome and sets out how FSS intends to use science, evidence and information (SEI) to deliver its strategic objectives and demonstrates a commitment to ensure that SEI underpins all of the work of the organisation. In particular, it is noted that FSS intends to ‘....work with others to increase value ... and deliver ambitious objectives and cross-cutting impact through strategic partnerships’ - an approach that we fully support. However, although the document identifies NHS Health Scotland as a key partner, it does not mention partnerships with other NHS bodies such as Health Protection Scotland, NHS board departments of public health, and NHS laboratories which we would consider as key to the successful delivery of this strategy. Similarly, partnerships with the Scottish Health Protection Network and local Integration Joint Boards will also be important.

R5:      The new science, evidence and information strategy demonstrates the prominence of science, evidence and evaluation within Food Standards Scotland.

•           NHS Health Scotland welcomes the continuation and further development of joint working with Food Standards Scotland to support the dissemination and use of science, evidence and information.

•           The strategy could be enhanced by the addition of an explicit reference to qualitative evidence.

NHS Health Scotland welcomes Food Standards Scotland’s new science, evidence and information strategy.  The new strategy clearly demonstrates the prominence of science, evidence and evaluation within Food Standards Scotland both to internal staff and external stakeholders. 

The definitions of science, evidence and information appear to focus on quantitative data.  We feel this could be enhanced by the addition of an explicit reference to qualitative evidence.  This would contribute to our understanding of why things work as they do, for example, in exploring areas such as dietary culture, as well as supporting our understanding of the quantitative data.

NHS Health Scotland agrees that linking the new science, evidence and information strategy with Food Standards Scotland values will be a particularly effective way of embedding the strategy into the structures and processes of the organisation. The evidence suggests this is likely to have the effect of normalising the use of evidence throughout the organisation as part of everyday work.  In addition, we would welcome the continuation and further development of joint working with partners to support the dissemination and use of science, evidence and information.

The three science, evidence and information themes and the actions identified capture the core mechanisms to support the effective use of evidence identified by the Alliance for Useful Information’s 2016 evidence review .  We therefore believe the strategy is strong with potential to make significant contributions to the use of evidence. (NHS health Scotland).

R6: IFST would have liked to make a formal response to this consultation but the time frame was too tight. Discussing it with our Scientific Committee members we

would just like to make the following points.

- We think this is an important document for FSS, but could be tightened up in places, with more detail

- It is positive that you have built in an evaluation plan at the outset

- It is positive that you are explicit about maintaining cross-UK collaboration, particularly in light of Brexit

- It is positive that you formally deal with public concern-assessment as part of your risk assessment approach

I hope we can continue to support FSS in the evolution of its strategies, but would appreciate a bit more lead time if possible.

R7:

The request to respond to your consultation was passed to the SDsPH for comment. HPS sent us their response and I would like to inform you that the SDsPH group chaired by Andrew Fraser would like to endorse their response.

We Did

Consultation comments and changes made to the SEI Strategy

1. General comments: Seven of the consultation responses thought that the SEI strategy overall was good, complete, appropriate and that the principles and themes were sensible for the role of FSS. One response thought that the strategy could be tightened in places with a bit more detail.  One response indicated that the strategy is strong with potential to make significant contributions to the use of evidence and that the three science, evidence and information themes and the actions identified capture the core mechanisms to support the effective use of evidence identified by the Alliance for Useful Information’s 2016 evidence review[1]

2. Under the SEI theme on Working with others some additional suggestions were made by respondents for inclusion including European food agencies, Health Protection Scotland, NHS health boards, Departments of public health and NHS laboratories. It was suggested that the wording of linking with other food agencies where possible should be revised to omit that wording.

One comment was positive that  the strategy is explicit about maintaining cross-UK collaboration, particularly in light of Brexit.

These suggestions have been added to our science, evidence and information landscape under key partners in Scotland on page 9 of the strategy and the where possible wording on page 8 has been omitted.   

3. Two comments were made on how FSS would measure the impact of SEI collaboration and how some of the outcomes and priorities identified in the themes would be measured.

One comment was positive that the strategy had built in an evaluation plan at the outset as part of our science governance statement summarised on page 10.

A proposed approach to measure the impact of the SEI outcomes and priorities has been provided in para 4.1-4.2 of the Board paper which the FSS Board to considered and agreed at their meeting on the 8 March 2017.

4. A comment was made about simplifying or providing a summary of the SEI strategy for consumers to make it more accessible.

One comment was positive that the strategy formally deals with public concern-assessment as part of your risk assessment approach.

FSS will provide a short paragraph on our website to indicate that the SEI strategy is a working document for FSS staff e.g. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has produced our first Science, Evidence and Information (SEI) strategy. The working strategy helps  how FSS operates to  support our vision and priorities. The strategy will link, our organisation, our staff and our three SEI themes with actions.

5. A comment was made about methods of enhancing communication and that FSS could use you-tube videos may be a method to do this.

Under our people and skills on pages 8 and 9 of the strategy the need for FSS staff to ensure that they include a communication plan at the onset of any project where SEI are gathered or used is specifically identified. You-tube and other social media can be part of that plan.

6. A comment was made about the definitions of science, evidence and information focusing on quantitative data and that this could be enhanced by the addition of an explicit reference to qualitative evidence. 

This was originally in the strategy but has now been made explicit on Page 5.



[1] Alliance for Useful Information 2016 Using Evidence what works? A discussion paper