Government cuts and deregulation are affecting meat safety, says Unison

Public service trade union Unison has warned that the public is at risk of food contamination due to cuts in council trading standards, environmental health and meat hygiene inspection.

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, called the cuts ‘toxic’ and said: “Due to the government’s willingness to allow the slaughter and food processing industry to police itself, consumers are at risk of a repeat of the horsemeat scandal.”

Unison also said the recent Which? report, ‘How safe is your food?’ revealed some local authorities were struggling to ensure local businesses complied with hygiene rules.

Last week the union published figures showing that councils in England had cut almost £11bn from their budgets in the first two years of the coalition government.

Wakefield added: “These budget cuts have led to tough choices in councils across the country and trading standards and environmental health have been hit hard.

“Deregulation of meat inspection is likely to increase the likelihood of further scandals in the future, adding to the risk to consumers. From June 2014, meat inspectors – the people who protect our food – will no longer be able to physically inspect pigs for abscesses, tumours and faeces in slaughter houses across the country.
“The next deregulation phase is poultry and then cows, sheep, deer and goats. If all physical inspection ends, the food the public eats could contain an abscess or tumour minced in with spaghetti and processed food products.”

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