Councils must ensure they are adequately resourcing their environmental health departments to maintain food testing standards, the Public Health Minister has said.
Data gathered by the Unison Scotland trade union has found that the number of qualified environmental health officers at 30 of Scotland's 32 local authorities has dropped 13% between 2008/09 when there were 519 officers and 2011-12 when there were 450.
The number of staff in an enforcement role at council environmental health departments dropped 17% over the same period, from 507 to 423.
The figures, gathered by Unison through freedom of information legislation and two surveys, come amid a horse meat contamination scandal in which traces of horse DNA have been found in beef products.
Last week it emerged that a frozen burger found in the kitchen of Cumbernauld High School, North Lanarkshire contained horse DNA.
In one of the surveys, involving environmental health staff and meat inspectors, 56% say their team has seen "major" cuts and 10% describe the cuts as "severe". Almost all (more than 95%) expect further cuts and job losses in the next couple of years.
Addressing a question from Labour MSP Claire Baker on whether the Scottish Government is aware of the reduction in the number of environmental health officers, Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "I am sure the member will recognise that it is the responsibility of local authorities to look at how they resource their environmental health departments to make sure that they are maintaining food testing standards within their own individual areas.
"There have been a number of changes over recent years to move to more of a risk-based assessment of how they should undertake these tests."
The horse meat scandal resulted in the Food Standards Agency in Scotland arranging for local authorities to carry out a series of extra inspections on top of controls already in place. Mr Matheson told MSPs that good progress has been made, with 96% of additional inspections of meat processing plants completed.
Dave Watson, head of bargaining and campaigns at Unison, said: "The impact of cuts so far is not necessarily visible to the public unless something goes wrong, as has happened with the crisis over horse meat... We don't believe this level of reduced service and increased risk is what the public wants."