UK meat body calls for progress on EU inspection

By Jonathan Dyson

- Last updated on GMT

EU wants to modernise meat inspection to tackle pathogens in meat
EU wants to modernise meat inspection to tackle pathogens in meat

Related tags European union European food safety authority

The director of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has said continued pathogen contamination involving meat traded across Europe underlines the need to fight opposition to European Commission proposals to modernise meat inspection systems.

Stephen Rossides called on meat inspectors not to block future progress: “The current meat inspection system is focused on old risks,”​ Rossides said. “It is very rigid and specific.”​ He highlighted progress being promoted through the Commission reforms, which he said was “trying to move towards a more risk-based inspection system based on actual food hazards, using microbiological controls”.

However, he added: “The issue is being kicked around like a political football. Meat inspectors are making all sorts of allegations, such as saying that the proposals will compromise food safety, but actually [for the meat inspectors] it’s about jobs.”​ He said that “while the direction of travel is the right one”​, there were a lot of concerns about what will happen. “There needs to be both improved legislation, and higher hygiene standards in plants,”​ he said.

Rossides was speaking as the European Union (EU)’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) continues to outline a wide range of food safety threats involving meat. They include salmonella in meatballs from Sweden; salmonella enteritidis in frozen chicken fillet from Poland destined for France; excess doxycycline drug residue in Polish pork, distributed in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia; and E.coli in boneless beef from Argentina, which was spotted and seized at the Dutch border.

Rossides emphasised the importance of acting on the findings of the scientific opinions published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the need to update EU meat inspection. “The EC’s [European Commission] proposals based on EFSA’s opinions are focused on enhancing consumer protection by modernising inspection systems to ensure they are relevant today. What’s the point of EFSA if these recommendations are ignored?”​ he asked.

Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general of the European Livestock & Meat Trading Union (UECBV), also stressed the importance of the EU programme. “Step by step, the current practices for the food business operators and the competent authorities are being adapted in order to tackle the more recent public health hazards, such as salmonella and campylobacter,”​ he said.

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