HACCP not working inspectors claim

The meat industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself, the vast majority of meat inspectors have claimed.

An increase in faecal contamination of carcases, bullying and intimidation of staff and swathes of paperwork are just some of the reasons Hazzard Anaylsis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems are not working, according to members of the Association of Meat Inspectors (AMI).

Ben Priestley, a national officer for Unison, speaking at AMI's annual conference, said the tenet of Hygiene 3, or HACCP, was that the industry could be trusted to regulate itself, but that was not true. "HACCP in principle is a good system but there is no scientific proof to show it is working," he remarked.

Priestly added that in a survey from Spring 2006, Unison members had been asked what they thought of HACCP and 92% of them said it was not working. He said they had also pointed out that despite trimming of carcases by plants to reduce faecal contamination, a majority of carcases showed this was still visible. This and the fact that trimming equipment was not being kept clean could possibly be linked to a number of significant E coli outbreaks.

The organisation's counterparts in EU member states, when asked how HACCP had been received, were just as critical of the new hygiene regulations. Priestley was also critical of the Food Standards Agency plans for a cull in inspections, "Without inspection the job will be rushed with faster line speeds resulting in carcase contamination". A poll at the AMI conference at Harper Adams Agricultural College in Newport, Shropshire, showed that the vast majority of meat inspectors agreed with Unison's findings that deregulating HACCP does not work.