SAMW welcomes European Parliament move on pig inspection

Meat processors in Scotland are grateful attempts to block changes to EU pig inspection were defeated in the European Parliament.

President of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) Alan McNaughton said, had MEPs voted in favour of no change to inspection, “they would have killed inspection reforms across the whole meat industry”.

He also said it would have been disastrous for the growth and development of Scotland’s “forward-looking and high-quality” meat industry.

“We’ve been working for the last three years to bring sense and reality into Europe’s 100-year-old meat inspection structure and are delighted that last-ditch attempts to block changes to EU pig inspection were defeated in the European Parliament earlier this month,” he said.

McNaughton explained that the “long-overdue” modernisation of European meat inspection remains on track to be approved and said visual assessments and food chain information will be at the core of ensuring meat is produced in a safe and correct way.

“The way is now clear for pork to be declared fit for human consumption following a detailed visual assessment of the carcase concerned, aligned to the provision of all necessary food chain information. Exposing carcases to systematic incision or palpation, which has been around for more than a century, will no longer be the routine inspection answer,” he added.

Yet McNaughton reminded that physical inspection methods would still be available for use when appropriate “of course, but will not be trotted out purely for historic reasons”.

Furthermore, McNaughton stated that removing the ancient process of inspecting meat was “entirely correct” in the society we live in. “The new approach we now have for pigs, and can begin looking forward to having for cattle and sheep, is efficient, effective and totally science-based,” he said.

“It addresses the disease and infection risks we face today, and it does it very well indeed.”
Meanwhile, the president also commended the involvement of Scottish MEPs George Lyon and Alyn Smith, as well as the Food Standards Agency’s Javier Dominguez, for their involvement in the vote process.

“The combined efforts of George, Alyn and Javier were extremely effective in the run-up to this crucial vote,” McNaughton said. “The time and effort taken in relation to this issue, by such a broadly-based spread of people and organisations, highlights the importance of the decision that has now been reached.

“In fact, while meat inspection and legislation often attract many differing views and opinions, this was one issue on which all sides came together to the long-term benefit of producers, processors and consumers.”