FSA debates with industry
Food Standards chiefs put their heads above the parapet last week to tackle the industry head-on over plans to increase Meat Hygiene Service charging.
Food Standards chiefs put their heads above the parapet last week to tackle industry heads over plans to increase Meat Hygiene Service charging.
At a debate organised by MTJ in Warwick on Friday, Tim Smith, FSA chief executive, set out the case for the MHS, showcasing the good work the organisation has done in improving efficiency and saving costs.
He accepted the fact that the current system was neither risk-based nor proportional and said the FSA needed to get better at influencing the EU to reform the legal framework.
"We would like to push for the removal of disproportionate controls, although we must not look like we are compromising on safety for the public," he said.
However, he said that the preferred option for the FSA was to increase charges to industry by 9%.
Stuart Roberts, director of the BMPA, questioned the need for any rise, pointing out that the meat industry was the only sector being asked to carry the cost of public health inspection. He also warned that any increase in costs in the current climate could prove disastrous for the industry.
John Mettrick, butcher and small abattoir operator, agreed that rising costs could prove the final straw for many small operators and warned of the potential for illegal on-farm slaughter as a result.
"Small abattoirs are crucial in the local supply chain," he said. "What happens if we lose small abattoirs? Illegal on-farm slaughter with no tracability or accountability."
Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the NFU, said whatever the increase in costs, these would have to be passed back up the supply chain, and not imposed down onto the farmers.
For full details on the event, see this Friday's MTJ.
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