Devolved Scottish inspection system mooted

Scottish meat and livestock official officials are proposing an alternative meat inspection system for Scotland, which would replace the current UK Food Standards Agency’s system.

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) and NFU Scotland today set out an alternative system, believing that the FSA has failed to deliver a proportionate or efficient service. They claim that the proposed charges do not reflect the true cost of inspections in Scotland and undermine the viability of Scottish businesses. 

The ‘Meat Inspection System fit for a modern Scotland’ report, which has been sent to the four main political parties in the Scottish election, states: “The inspection cost per livestock unit in Scotland is believed to be less than half of the current UK cost as charged by the FSA.

“Scotland, therefore, is significantly disadvantaged by having to pay a UK figure influenced by less efficient delivery of controls in England and Wales.”

Alan Craig, president of SAMW, added: “We believe a Scottish solution, still managed locally by the FSA, would be more efficient and cost-effective and would provide a valuable opportunity to secure and enhance public confidence in quality Scotch meat.“

They propose to work with the Scottish Government and the FSA in Scotland to achieve a new model for Scotland, with the primary responsibility for producing safe meat resting with the Food Business Operator (FBO).

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “The recent decision to devolve animal health budgets to Scotland creates the opportunity to also allow Scotland to take control of its own meat inspection arrangements.

“By utilising the FSA in Scotland, we can develop a tailor-made service that better recognises the specialised processing sector we have in Scotland and delivers efficiency through best practice that will benefit the whole meat chain and build on the Scottish brand,” he said. 

SAMW has previously voiced concern over the FSA’s proposed imposition of full cost recovery of inspection, fearing that this would put companies out of business and increase unemployment.

The report said: “While the industry has no objection in principle to full cost recovery, the position of small rural abattoirs must be safeguarded within that, to avoid business failures.”

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