The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) pointed out that by omitting the results of potential investigations conducted following the allegations, the report could cause unnecessary prejudice to food business operators (FBOs).
BMPA director Stephen Rossides said: “No bullying or harassment in the workplace is acceptable. Where it occurs, it must be tackled. But, here, the FSA is publishing the names of businesses without having properly investigated and substantiated what are reported alleged incidents.
“This is an open licence for any organisation or individual with a political motivation or a grudge against a business or the industry more widely to make any malicious allegation with impunity, with potentially serious reputational and commercial consequences for the businesses affected. This flies in the face of natural justice, and is not right or fair.
“The FSA should properly investigate and substantiate incidents through independent channels. It needs to get a proper handle on the scale and nature of the issue so that the industry and the Agency can work together to tackle any problems on the basis of objective information, not unsubstantiated allegations.”
The FSA explained that the report was the result of a Freedom of Information request by public service trade union UNISON, which was for reported incidents only, and did not ask for information on the outcome of the report or any response by the processor itself. The statistics were drawn from incident report forms submitted by FSA and contractor staff to the FSA’s Health and Safety team.
“In some cases, disciplinary action was taken, but most incidents were resolved informally by plant managers addressing with their staff the issues raised by FSA managers. It should not be assumed therefore that any formal findings have been made as to the liability for reported incidents of the businesses identified,” the FSA added.
Rumours of the upcoming publication emerged in February, angering meat businesses and associations, which took legal action to try to prevent the move.