Meat inspection petition with 216,000 signatures given to FSA

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A union in the United Kingdom has submitted a petition on meat inspections, signed by more than 216,000 people, to the Food Standards Agency.

Steve Nash, a consumer advisor on E. coli O157, Unison national officer Paul Bell, and Sean Humber, a lawyer at Leigh Day, delivered the petition calling on the FSA to keep meat inspections independent to the agency’s chief executive Emily Miles.

Moving to a risk-based system
Those behind the petition called on the FSA to scrap plans that would permit slaughterhouses to carry out their own safety inspections. However, no detailed plans about changes to meat regulation have been proposed, according to the FSA.

Unison members in the FSA and local government environmental health officers would be affected by any changes. There used to be 1,500 meat inspectors. Now there are 400 plus contractors, according to Unison.

Bell, who represents the independent meat hygiene inspectors that work directly for the FSA, said the agency is trying to move to a risk-based approach to inspection with slaughterhouses.

He said this means instead of independent meat hygiene inspectors being on the ground every day, the agency wants to have businesses inspected less frequently.

“Then, depending on what comes out of that, they may not be inspected again for the next three years. It’s a cost-cutting move but could have a devastating impact on public health. Meat inspectors spend years doing qualifications and training. In the post-Brexit world, we need to collectively think as a society – not just in government departmental silos – about joined up regulation efforts.”

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