A KEY responsibility of Food Standards Scotland is its role in promoting diet and nutrition.

Scotland’s record in these areas - just look at the figures on coronary heart disease and obesity - is abysmal and the creation of FSS was long overdue.

However, it is of equal importance that the body carries the trust of the public and key stakeholders in the sector.

As we previously revealed, FSS board member Dr Carrie Ruxton has paid links to confectionery firm Ferrero and was paid to chair a panel event for the British Soft Drinks Association.

It also emerged that, in the years before joining the FSS, she wrote a paper downplaying a link between sugar and obesity.

Ruxton’s views and industry links have not been hidden - she has declared her outside interests properly - but it is fair comment to question whether she should be on the official public sector nutrition board.

Our revelations today raise further questions about her board membership. According to FSS, in January 2016 the board backed a sugar tax on food and drink in a move designed to improve the diet of Scottish public.

When the issue came back to the board, Ruxton said she had understood the taxation section in the FSS diet proposal had focused on beverages only, rather than food.

She added that her “fear” was that a “wider” sugar levy would drive down the sugar content of foods, but not the calories, and that “manufacturers would be free to switch sugars for other caloric nutrients”.

In response, FSS chair Ross Finnie noted: “The Board agreed to the principle of a broad sugar tax and sought to explore how that might be considered and introduced which does not appear to be your position.”

In short, it appears there was a board split on whether FSS should, and did, back a sugar tax on food, which is not a good look for a nutrition advisory board.

Board members should not be arguing against something as fundamental as a sugar tax on food and Finnie must get a grip of this organisation.