The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have made a series of recommendations to meat processors operating in the UK, as they concluded a six-month review which investigated non-compliance issues in the meat industry, following several high-profile food hygiene scandals.
The FSA launched the industry-wide review in February, following the identification of non-compliance issues at cutting plants operated by 2 Sisters Food Group and Russell Hume.
The review aimed to identify potential improvements in the way the sector is regulated, to ensure that food safety is prioritised and that overall industry standards in the meat supply chain are improved.
325 food organisations operating in the UK were consulted by the FSA during the investigation, and the review made several major recommendations, such as:
- Greater involvement of industry to produce clearer guidance to meet the needs of food businesses
- Increased focus on skills and capabilities across industry
- Greater data transparency and sharing across industry and with the regulators
- More effective use of data by regulatory authorities and improved regulatory coordination and consistency
- Trialling the feasibility of using a single organisation to deliver all official controls in a geographic location
These recommendations are subject to the approval of each organisation’s board at a meeting in Edinburgh on 17 October.
Jason Feeney, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “We launched this review following a series of high profile events over the last 12 months at a number of meat businesses.
“These incidents cast a shadow over the whole sector and not just the businesses directly at fault. This challenged consumer confidence and trust in the industry as a whole.
“This in-depth review has identified actions that the meat industry and the regulatory authorities can take to make improvements.
“There are good reasons why the meat industry has specific controls in place to protect public health and provide assurance about the authenticity of meat products on the market.
‘”We are pleased the industry participated so fully in this approach and we expect them to continue to work with us to deliver the recommendations once they have been agreed.”