Unison campaigns for no change to meat inspection

A union has asked UK supermarkets to back its campaign against European Union plans to change meat inspection rules.

Unison, the UK’s largest union, is concerned about the changes due to be made to meat inspection across the country and claimed proposals would make food unsafe. As a result, it is urging supermarkets across the UK to “guarantee” that the meat they sell is safe to eat and that their products are labelled correctly.  

The organisation drew on a recent Mintel report, which showed that less than half of consumers asked said they trusted the safety of their food. Research also showed that 37% of people did not think supermarkets knew the origin of the food they sold. Additionally, research for Labelling Matters showed that 83% of consumers in the UK wanted to know where their meat had been produced.

Unison national officer for meat hygiene inspectors Paul Bell said: “We want supermarkets to back our campaign to keep meat hygiene inspectors and rigorous inspection at the heart of consumer protection. Plans from the EU, backed by the UK government, are set to limit inspection and weaken those defences, opening the door to diseased animals getting into the food chain.

“The reputation of some of the biggest supermarkets in the country has taken a real knocking because of the latest horsemeat scandal. It is in their own interests to reassure customers that they are doing all they can to make sure the meat they sell is safe to eat.”

Bell also argued that the meat inspection systems in place now prevent bad meat from entering the food system, but said proposed changes would lead to a range of illnesses entering it.  

“If the changes are not stopped by MEPs, the only checks in future will be visual,” he said. “The European Food Standards Agency has issued very specific scientific opinion that will lead to a change in legislation and an end to UK meat inspectors examining lymph nodes during post-mortem inspection.”


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