The problem, not the cure

The MHS always claims the need for more veterinary supervision after adverse publicity - and the latest animal welfare episode is a typical example. Obviously the alleged stunning contraventions would not have happened with the vet present; but surely this illustrates that constant veterinary presence itself is the basic flaw in abattoir regulations.

The MHS has successfully brainwashed everybody into believing that constant veterinary presence is essential to protect public health. So efforts to introduce operator responsibility are frustrated, and the veterinary stranglehold continues. In theory, the law requires businesses to put in place an effective, risk-based management control system to achieve minimum hygiene requirements to comply with the law. The present charade, with supposed management controls running together with an intrusive detailed MHS inspection system is both wasteful and inefficient. I could employ a well-qualified technical meat inspector/manager) for something like current MHS inspection charges - and do an infinitely better job than the present shambles, without the worry of public sector cost increases.

This will trigger off angry cries of "no self-regulation" and "putting public health at risk", which is nonsense. Look, for example, at large dairy operations: they produce a potentially high-risk product that can be consumed raw. Or take suppliers of sandwiches to large retailers. What do you see? Operations of the highest standards, managed by the respective firms, and usually not an official in sight. And they enjoy the trust of the public. Is this self-regulation? No, because there are periodic visits by health officials to monitor the system and compliance with the law. It is only in abattoirs, which can only achieve limited controls in any case, that mild hysteria get triggered off when the word hygiene is even mentioned.

If any other sector of the food industry were to be subjected to the current MHS system of control, it too would soon be in the same boat as abattoirs - namely, over-regulated, constantly harassed, with inspection costs that are out of control and with a catastrophic food safety image. The MHS is the disease, not the cure.

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