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UNISON welcomes meat hygiene report

02 June 2010

UNISON Cymru/Wales has welcomed the publication of the National Assembly for Wales’ Animal Welfare and Meat Hygiene report

The inquiry, initiated by the National Assembly following a representation from UNISON meat hygiene members, examined animal welfare and meat hygiene at abattoirs across Wales. In response to the report, Darron Dupre, UNISON Regional Organiser, said:

“We welcome the fact that our members concerns were taken seriously by the National Assembly. Our members within the meat hygiene services have had growing fears about falling standards of meat hygiene within Wales. Our members felt that the risk of contamination was increasing as the industry had too much control over the inspection process and there were too few inspection staff to effectively regulate the practice. Where our members were raising these concerns, they were often being met with resistance from their managers and food business operators.

“We drew these concerns to the attention of the assembly, not only for our members, but also in the wider public interest. We need to ensure the high standards of the Welsh meat industry for the long term so that we can prevent further outbreaks of E-Coli and BSE. Without high quality inspection, we will not have a high quality meat industry in Wales. UNISON feels that the recommendations in this report go some way in addressing those matters.

“We are pleased that the report recognises that it is more beneficial to employ veterinary staff directly by the FSA. This is rightfully a direct challenge to existing Food Standards Agency policy and UNISON believes that this is the best way to ensure that frontline staff are adequately supported and therefore perform to the highest standards. UNISON does believe, however, that this report could have gone one step further in ensuring the same for meat hygiene inspectors also.

“We welcome the recommendation that meat hygiene inspectors should have greater powers to prevent dirty animals from being presented for slaughter. This recommendation, for the first time, highlights the fact that current risk based assessments in place to protect public health from contaminated meat has failed and UNISON believes that this recommendation should be enacted immediately.

“We also welcome the recommendation for further consultation before such legislation is brought forward. It is imperative that UNISON, the union for all vets and meat inspectors, is a part of this process in order to represent the voice of those tasked with protecting consumers. We have been able to give evidence during this process that the Assembly would not have had otherwise and we believe that this will improve the future of the meat industry in Wales – this has to be a good thing for our members, but also for public health, and the Welsh economy.”

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