Food Standards Agency accused of ‘obesity’ on costs

Change is needed with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over meat hygiene systems, following a breakdown in trust, according to Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) president Alan Craig, who accused the organisation of having an “obesity” problem when it came to costs.

Speaking about MHS change at the SAMW annual conference last week, Craig said: “The road from Edinburgh to York is now littered with debris from burned bridges, trust has broken down and indifference is starting to prevail. A catalyst in the form of change is required to get this project home.”

He accused the FSA of cynicism over its recent consultations with industry over charging. “I took part in one of these initiatives, which was well-chaired and contributed to widely. But I am struggling to remember any recommendation that was actually acted upon.”

He said costs for the MHS, now rebranded as the FSA Operations Group, had spiralled and the industry was “staring down the barrel of three-figure percentage increases in the cost of inspection”.

He added: “The cost of the service has an obesity problem, regardless of how it is dressed up — admitting the full extent of your addiction is the first step to recovering from it. But not one processor in this room thinks that admission has been forthcoming.” He said all SAMW members were willing to engage with the FSA.

Craig also called for increased representation of processors within Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), pointing out that SAMW members and the wider industry contribute £1.5m towards the QMS budget each year.

>>Health minister announces MHS changes

>>Processors push for QMS board recognition

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