AIMS expresses concern over meat safety ‘scaremongering’

AIMS expresses concern over meat safety ‘scaremongering’

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has criticised the Food Standards Agency (FSA) of scaremongering in a Radio 4 programme about regulation in abattoirs.

The Radio 4 File on 4 Inside The Abattoir aired on Tuesday evening (17th June 2014) and took a wide ranging look at issues surrounding slaughter and meat inspection.

Peter Hewson, a spokesman for the AIMS Board of Directors and former Veterinary Director of FSA said that although the presenter, the FSA, Animal Aid and the meat inspectors all tried to cast doubts over the industry’s commitment to animal welfare and food safety, none presented any evidence that they were doing anything other than scaremongering.

Andrew Pooley.

AIMS has criticised the FSA of scaremongering in a Radio 4 programme.

“The presenter had the excuse that he wanted to make good radio; Animal Aid had the excuse that they want to ban all meat eating; and the meat inspectors have the excuse that they want to preserve their jobs, even if what they do actually increases the risk to public health. The FSA however, the one body that is supposedly committed to science and risk-based controls, had no excuse,” says Hewson.

In the programme, the FSA referred to a recent court case in which a slaughterhouse was prosecuted for fragments of sheep spleen being left in carcases presented for post-mortem inspection.

“The FSA spokesperson suggested this posed a real risk to public health. That was different to what the FSA told the court, when it said there was no significant risk; a statement that resulted in the very modest fines that were handed down,” says Hewson. “In fact the offence, if one was committed, was purely technical. Sheep spleen, although SRM, does not pose a BSE risk. No naturally occurring case of BSE has ever been found in sheep although six million have been tested. In addition, the case revolved around spleens that had not been left in carcases due to the operator’s neglect, but because in they had all become firmly attached to the sheep carcase due to peritonitis. Had the operator removed the diseased tissues before post-mortem inspection, the FSA’s meat inspectors would not have been able to judge whether the carcases were fit for human consumption or not. As it was, the operator followed the FSA’s instructions, removed the diseased tissues and the carcases were health marked by the meat inspectors. Job done, no risk, yet off to court: why?

“One can only assume that the FSA’s motive was also to scaremonger in order to justify its decision to morph from the Government Department set up by the Food Standards Act into a fee earning inspection body. The FSA should focus on carrying out the roles it was set up for by Parliament and provide independent risk assessment and risk communication to Government and the consumer. Roles that it is patently no longer staffed to deliver” added Hewson.

For more information contact AIMS on 01609 761547 or email

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