Full cost recovery to go ahead
The industry has vowed to fight on after the decision by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to press ahead with full cost recovery for meat inspection.
Leading sector organisations are to press the government — and in particular Defra — to move towards more proportional and risk-based meat hygiene controls, as recommended by the Macdonald Task Force Report. Meanwhile, a pan-industry move in Scotland to go it alone is gathering speed, with the proposals currently being considered by the new Scottish government.
The FSA ratified plans for full cost recovery at its board meeting at the end of May, where chief executive Tim Smith revealed that an attempt to recoup pension cost had been ditched at the 11th hour.
However, the industry now believes that its concerted campaign for reform is starting to have an impact — with FSA board members beginning to recognise the level of dissatisfaction across the sector. At the board meeting, Smith said: “It is in our own interest and that of the consumers, and by definition the industry, to seek efficiencies in what we do.” And he was supported by board member Clive Grundy, who said: “We must work even harder to reassure our stakeholders that we remain committed to an improvement regime.”
Stephen Rossides, director at the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “While the FSA has reaffirmed its commitment to full cost recovery for meat inspections, the Macdonald Task Force recommendations for changes to the delivery of meat hygiene controls and the Scottish government’s intentions to look into a possible separate inspection system north of the border begin to open up the debate about new inspection arrangements.
“It is clear from the FSA board’s recent discussions on full cost recovery that some board members are beginning to appreciate the level of dissatisfaction across the industry with the FSA’s performance, and the need for the FSA to improve,” added Rossides. “We will continue to urge change, and press for greater cost efficiency, as well as for a real commitment to the principle and practice of earned recognition, a key theme of the Macdonald Task Force report.”