Hands-on inspections at slaughterhouses have been dropped, sparking concerns that contaminated meat could enter the food chain.
Only visual checks are allowed under new European regulations which came into force on June 1, to the concerns of some meat inspectors who believe diseased produce could end up in people’s pies and sausages.
Food poisoning fears
Ron Spellman, director-general at the European Working Community for Food Inspectors and Consumer Protection, said that 37,000 pigs’ heads were found to have tuberculosis lesions or abscesses last year.
But under the new rules, inspectors will not be allowed to cut the lymph nodes to find such tiny TB lesions and abscesses, increasing the chances of them ending up in processed meat products, Mr Spellman warned.
Claims may rise
The carcasses of pigs, eight million of which are killed for meat each year in the UK, used to be cut open to be inspected for disease but this will now be against regulations.
Millions of items of processed foods, including sausages and pies, contain pigs’ head meat, meaning food poisoning and subsequent claims, could rise if diseased produce is not spotted.
But the UK’s Food Standards Agency said that bugs and bacteria such as campylobacter and E. coli pose a greater threat to health.
The FSA was a key player in the move to adopt hands-off checks, providing the scientific advice which was the basis for the change.
Chief operating officer Andrew Rhodes said visual checks would mean a lower risk of cross-contamination from inspectors cutting, handling and touching meat which will later be cooked and consumed.
He said scientists are now more concerned about the risks to consumers from pathogenic and microbiological hazards, such as E.coli and campylobacter.
Shadow food and farming minister Huw Irranca-Davies demanded an urgent meeting with the FSA over the change.
He said Britain’s reputation as a supplier with rigorous standards could be undermined, and sought assurances that consumer safety was not at risk.
If you think you might have suffered from food poisoning, compensation solicitors at Accident Advice Helpline may be able to help.
Source: BBC News