Red tape blindness

Toby Baker writes about the hygiene and safety.

You make the point that preventing "any slip-up, however small" is going to undermine efforts to reduce red tape (Editor's comment, MTJ 24 November). On the face of it, this makes sense in the light of what you call the industry's excellent track record on controls and testing.

However, I beg to differ. The industry has made a big mistake in blindly following every extra government control imposed on the grounds of protecting health. To be sure, there are always unfocused complaints about red tape and so on, but these merely raise suspicions of putting profit before public health. What is never done is to attack official regulations for being irrelevant to health. It is never shouted from the rooftops that current abattoir regulations are unscientific, outdated and ineffective. Even the law cleverly avoids talking about meat being fit for consumption, but deals only with an entirely different matter - namely technical compliance with regulations - which is almost impossible to link with unfitness for consumption.

Look how official pronouncements always cancel each other out. One voice will claim to protect public health by following half-baked scientific guesswork. At the same time, another official spin doctor will tell people not to

worry. And we are left with ano-ther unjustified meat health scare.

Anybody who thinks the problem will go away after a bit of grumbling about red tape might give some thought to your report about the slanderous attack on the industry by a Welsh government minister. Norman Bagley made a telling and accurate response, but what next? What Jones said was demonstrable rubbish.

A high-powered - and expensive - publicity campaign would be the appropriate course of action and would provide an ideal opportunity to show that official claims to be protecting public health are just not true.

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