MHS matters

As I write this I am dealing with the aftermath of animal rights group Animal Aid's covert filming in three abattoirs and I'm grumpy.

I'm grumpy because incidents of this nature can be completely avoided and are totally unacceptable. They also have the potential to bring the UK meat industry into disrepute. I've received a number of letters from consumers and MPs along these lines.

I defend the UK meat industry as a whole, because I firmly believe that most of the industry is among the best in the world. And this brings me on to my frustration as to why compliant members of the meat industry and their trade bodies do not distance themselves from those that are non-compliant or alternatively use peer pressure to demand their full compliance.

The MHS does not like taking enforcement action. We want abattoirs to fully embrace the law. If the law needs reform, then we achieve this by working together and using science and evidence to support change. The European Commission (EC) monitors breaches in the UK, every breach that occurs puts us on the back foot when we suggest policy reform. The Commission can argue that factions in the UK meat industry overtly flout the law and do not take full responsibility for compliance. In turn this means that intervention from the MHS is needed.

So here's the deal, the meat industry embraces the spirit and detail of the law, my staff are given the respect that they are due, enforcement actions dry up, and the risks to public health and animal welfare are reduced to an absolute minimum. We can then jointly go to the EC to request reform of official controls. I'll then be less grumpy. Deal?


Steve McGrath

Chief Executive Meat Hygiene Service