Dyes had been assessed, claims MHS

The Meat Hygiene Service has confirmed this week that dyes used to stain specified risk material have been assessed for their safe use on a number of occasions.

Concerns had been raised following the resumed inquest into the death from asthma of a meat inspector. The inquest in Somerset had heard how the inspector had been exposed to mist from the dye when supervising the correct spraying of meat.

The Coroner and a hospital doctor had concluded that an occupational origin caused by the dyes could not be excluded and may have been a factor.

Although MTJ contacted the MHS, Defra and the Rural Payments Agency last week to establish what tests had been carried out on the dyes - Patent Blue V and Tartrazine - only the MHS was able to comment on the status of the dyes, specifying the precautions to be taken as laid down in its safety manual.

This week, however, Chris Lawson, MHS chief executive (pictured), said that the impact on health of the use of the dyes had been considered by the MHS on a number of occasions over the past 10 years.

"Most recently, 2002, the MHS received the results of an analysis of Patent Blue V dye by the Health & Safety Executive. This concluded the dye did not pose a hazard to health," he said in a letter to MTJ.

"Notwithstanding this assessment, the MHS requires its staff to position themselves so that they are distant from operations, although still able to supervise, and are not affected by any drifting spray. Where drifting spray exists, staff should wear FFP2S-type disposable face masks. As no hazard to staff exists from use of the dyes, there was nothing of which to inform the Association of Meat Inspectors."

The AMI had expressed concerns that it had not been told officially of the outcome of the inquest.

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