FSA responds to media reports over practices in slaughterhouses
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has clarified that staff do not allow contaminated meat to enter the food chain, following joint reports by ITV News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which allege that “poor hygiene and ineffective regulations have left consumers at risk”.
FSA highlighted that “it is not the case that breaches identified in an audit report mean that any meat leaving that premises is unsafe for consumers”, responding to claims by a former meat inspector, who has remained anonymous, to the aforementioned media that “regular hygiene lapses, coupled with poor regulation, could lead to dirty meat getting into the food chain and endangering human health”.
FSA clarified that “the fact that breaches of the rules are identified and swiftly corrected demonstrates that the process is working – it ensures that we are aware of problems and that anything that poses an immediate food safety risk prompts instant action by FSA officials to prevent that meat entering the food chain.”
FSA also said that it does not tolerate hygiene and animal welfare breaches, adding: “Prosecutions for failures by businesses have increased over recent years.
“Since the start of 2016, FSA investigations into alleged offences at approved meat plants have resulted in 20 convictions.”
The former meat inspector, has reportedly also made claims of workplace bullying and staff harassment to both media.
FSA commented: “We adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards workplace bullying and harassment. We work to ensure our staff are able to carry out their duties without intimidation.
“We have taken forthright action to crack down on bullying and harassment, including the introduction of mandatory training for all field based managers; an improved incident reporting system for all employees and contractors and a new process to make it quicker and easier for managers to deal with reported incidents.”
The agency also noted that it follows up with food businesses “on every single reported incident of bullying or harassment and we take appropriate and proportionate action against those who bully or harass our staff – in the worst cases this can result in us removing our meat inspectors or veterinarians, which prevents the business from operating”.
Speaking on ITV News at Ten, BMPA’s chief executive Nick Allen, commented: “Nothing could go out to be sold to the consumer unless it had the meat health mark on it, so there’s the failsafe check right at the end.”