Friday, 8 February 2013


8 Feb 2013

UNISON has today called for the immediate re-introduction of daily independent inspections of meat cutting premises.

With new developments in the meat scandal coming thick and fast, the UK’s largest union said that both the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA had failed in their duty to ensure the safety of the food on people’s plates.

In a move of ‘astonishing insensitivity’, the FSA has this week written to all meat inspectors across the UK to tell them their pay and pensions are to be cut. UNISON called the move ‘poorly timed in the extreme’, as meat inspectors have never been more needed.

Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer said:“The latest developments in the unfolding meat scandal have shone a harsh, but necessary light on the meat processing industry, and it’s time for the question to be asked: how can we stop fraudulent and unlawful practices in the meat industry?

“Consumers have the right to know what is in the food they and their families are eating, and that their food is what it says it is, is safe and free from contamination.

“So far, most of the mislabelled horse meat has been found in ‘budget’ food, targeted at the poorest members of our society. It is a scandal that the safety of people, whose choice is limited by their income, has come second to the private profit.

“We demand the government tells us the full extent of the meat scandal, and until then, one thing is clear - these companies have put profits before the safety of the consumer – and is time for DEFRA and the FSA to act and start putting things right.

“In addition, he attack on food inspectors’ pay, at a time when their work has never been more needed, is poorly timed in the extreme and astonishingly insensitive.”

The meat inspection workforce managed by the Food Standards agency has shrunk from a high point of 1700 – during the BSE and e-Coli crises in the 1990s – to around 800 today.

This has been a direct consequence of the deregulatory policies of both the European Commission and UK Government to hand over more and more meat inspection duties to the meat industry and dispense with proper independent inspection.

In addition to a comprehensive investigation into the contents and quality of processed food, UNISON is calling for the following changes to meat inspection to stop this, the latest in a long line of UK meat scandals, from happening again:

·     The immediate re-introduction of daily, independent inspections of meat cutting premises,

·     The FSA to oversee the independent inspection of food manufacturing premises  –where government cuts have compromised the ability of local trading standards services to do so,
·     The FSA to ensure that all horses killed in the UK for human consumption are tested for the drug “BUTE” and that any horse carcases tested should not be released for human consumption until the test has returned a negative result.


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