Abattoir owner takes carcase fight to the EU

A campaign to change the law on what meat can be allowed into the food chain is being taken to Europe. Sammy Morphet, a founder member of the abattoir trade body AIMS, is campaigning to revert the law to how it was before 2006, allowing meat passed fit for human consumption into the food chain from emergency-slaughter animals that have not undergone ante-mortem inspection.

Under the current ruling meat from animals that have not undergone ante-mortem inspection must be declared unfit. Hunted wild game is exempt.

Having already written to British MPs, government departments and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) the veteran abattoir owner is now writing to Europe’s Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, and every member of the European Parliament, some 700 of them.

Morphet, who slaughters some 3,000 pigs a week at his Cheshire abattoir, claims to have received support from several abattoir owners, as well as from several British MPs. The EC ruling is losing abattoirs thousands of pounds for perfectly good meat that is condemned, he said.

The Food Standards Agency disputes the amount of meat involved, but Morphet has attacked the agency’s stance. In a circular sent to government departments and MPs, he said: “The message the FSA is sending to every abattoir is that if they do the right thing and slaughter an animal to relieve suffering, the FSA will punish them by making them lose the value of the carcase for no reason. In addition, good food is being wasted when people are starving.”

Asked if there were any plans to change the current regulation Craig Kirby, head of approvals and veterinary advice at the FSA, said: “Not at all.” He said animals requiring ante-mortem inspection “...isn’t a big deal given that most of these plants have full-time vets anyway”.

He also questioned the view that abattoir owners were losing thousands of pounds as a result, saying that in eight years as a plant OV, he had only come across two or three cases of animals having to be slaughtered without ante-mortem inspection being carried out first.

The industry was consulted widely at the time the changes were being proposed, and Morphet was
a member of AIMS at that time, he added.