Proposed Food Scotland Bill

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Deregulation of meat hygiene inspections will result in tragic consequences.  UNISON, the union who represent meat hygiene inspectors in abattoirs and meat plants, warned MSPs that any deregulation of meat hygiene inspections will result in unsafe meat entering the food chain, with potential tragic consequences.  A recent freedom of information request revealed that since April 2012 meat inspectors and vets have prevented over a million instances of diseased animal carcasses from entering the food chain. This included:

Dave Watson, head of UNISON bargaining and campaigns, said: “This shows what a vital job meat inspectors do. We are calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that Food Standards Scotland is focussed on safety of consumers not food industry profits. Meat inspectors and vets must be able to carry out thorough independent inspections, free from food industry influence.”Dave Watson’s warning came as he was speaking to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee (10 June 2014) who are taking evidence on the Food (Scotland) Bill. The bill proposes a new Food Standards Scotland, which UNISON broadly supports. However, UNISON believes powerful trade bodies see this as a chance to lobby for light touch regulation allowing them to put short term business interests before safety. Dave Watson also warned: “Getting this wrong has the potential for tragic consequences. We have been concerned about the lighter touch regulation which has been promoted across UK and EU meat trades.

Veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors should be employed by the state to prevent very powerful trade bodies lobbying for relaxed controls which would lead to a drop in inspection standards, and risk decontaminated meat entering the food chain. Scottish food has a strong international reputation for safe quality food and we must do everything in our power to protect that”.

UNISON believes the primary concern of meat inspectors and vets must be to protect consumers and uphold high standards of animal welfare, not increase food industry profits. This will not only protect consumers it will also protect the high quality Scottish food brand which is so important for Scottish jobs.

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