Processors welcome FSA move

News that the Food Standards Agency has finally appointed an ex-Cabinet officer to review the delivery of meat inspection services, with a view to privatising it, has been greeted with welcome anticipation by the meat processing industry.

News that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has finally appointed an ex-Cabinet officer to review the delivery of meat inspection services, with a view to privatising it, has been greeted with welcome anticipation by the meat processing industry.

Geoff Tierney, appointed the review's programme manager, is to look at a range of options, including third-party inspection services, following an industry proposal to overhaul the current system, which it claims is too expensive and

inefficient. Tierney was previously head of secretariat at the Better Regulation Commission.

The FSA deadline given for the completion of the review and recommendations for the way forward is summer 2007. Maurice McCartney, director at the British Meat Processing Association, welcomed Tierney's appointment and said the time-scale for completion and recommendations by summer 2007 seemed realistic. He added the industry wanted a flexible system, accommodating its complexity and facilitating the future evolution of meat inspection to reflect risk and food safety priorities. Finally it wanted a service that was far removed from criticisms such as overmanning, he added.

Norman Bagley, director at the Association of Independent Meat Traders, said: "It is very positive." He believes Tierney will narrow down the options to be explored by February 2007 and, by July, will cost them to pave the way forward for meat inspection services.

Alistair Donaldson, executive manager at the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said the new Dutch model was favoured as it had been demonstrated to deliver better standards of service when benchmarked against the old service.

Tierney said he was pleased to have been asked by the FSA to lead the review and would work with all interested parties to ensure that the UK has the most effective and efficient delivery of official controls in meat premises."This means controls that safeguard food safety standards and maintain consumer confidence while being proportionate, targeted, consistent, transparent and risk-based," he added.

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