FSA: 'Evidence points to more intervention'

The meat industry is likely to face more government intervention unless it gets its house in order, was the warning from Food Standards Agency (FSA) chief executive Tim Smith.

The sector is pushing the FSA to lobby for change in the European legal framework to hygiene regulations, but Smith says the setbacks during 2009, from animal activist exposés to poor reports from European veterinary inspections, has damaged the sector's credibility.

Speaking to MTJ before Christmas, he questioned the industry’s maturity to take responsibility for self-regulation and said there was a culture of risk, which set the meat industry apart from other food-producing sectors.

He said the FSA was slowly gathering evidence to build a case to lobby for change within Europe, but noted that, at the moment, the evidence was pointing to more government intervention, not less.

“Every time I think that we're getting close, we get caught out,” he said. “Thanks to things such as the FVO report, and Animal Aid's films, the evidence we're gathering points strongly in favour of government controls. I hate clichés, but the 'bad apple' one here is unavoidable.”

• For the full interview with Tim Smith, see pages 18-19

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