BMPA new president urges better relationship with FSA

The red meat industry must build a better relationship with the Food Standards Authority (FSA), the new president of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has said.

Speaking at the BMPA conference (24 May), Andrew Simpson said the ongoing issue of full cost recovery for meat inspection had contributed to a relationship that had been “bad-tempered” at times, and further exacerbated by the publication of audit reports ahead of the board’s review as well as the Freedom of information (FOI) request into alleged bullying.

He told delegates: “I hope we can build a better relationship with the FSA over the next years, based on the principle of earned recognition, partnership and working trust and mutual respect. Our industry produces and exports food, generating wealth and creating jobs. We are part of the solution to tackling the country’s economic woes and we must be treated accordingly.”

He said that the industry must meet its responsibilities and build on the high standards it delivers. “We deserve respect but must work hard to maintain it.”

On the subject of full cost recovery for meat inspection, he said that whether or not the FSA’s proposals are realised, the BMPA continues to question the value for money of the system. He said: “We are currently developing new approaches on a step-by-step basis and hope that the FSA is open to new ideas.”

He also welcomed an EU-level discussion of the new framework of risk-based official meat controls and said the aim was to produce a system to enhance public health, in a practical, flexible, sensible and cost-effective way.

He said that the food information consumer regulations had been a high priority, but that the coming year would see more detailed discussion of issues such as front-of-pack labelling information, country of origin labelling and added water in bacon. And he called on the industry to look carefully at the regulations and provide feedback in order to help the BMPA affect the guidelines.

He said: “There is much work to be done to ensure these rules are sensible and practical.”