The Scottish red meat industry yesterday gave an enthusiastic welcome to the decision of the Scottish Government to operate a standalone meat inspection service as part of a new Food Standards Agency.
The decision will remove long-standing complaints by the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) that the current system, operated through the UK Food Standards Agency, was both costly and inefficient.
SAMW president Alan McNaughton described the decision, announced in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, as “progressive and far-reaching” and one that would benefit the country’s whole meat chain, from producers to consumers.
“To now be embarking on a new co-operative and collaborative approach to meat inspection in Scotland is a refreshing prospect for SAMW’s member companies,” he said.
He said many Scottish meat plants had grown “tired of the lack of appreciation, knowledge and understanding of the industry”.
He claimed that the service had become excessive in its bureaucracy, far too costly in administrative terms and generally paid not much more than lip-service to the idea of partnership working.
“The current body has also been too ready to hide behind the role of ‘regulator’ and ‘EU legislation’, rather than work with industry to deliver a more cost effective service,” he added.
“The new structure, as outlined by the Scottish Government, is very much a new dawn for our industry, offering everyone involved the chance to start again with fresh ambitions, fresh attitudes and a vision for continued development.”
Although the new Scottish Food Standards Agency will require primary legislation to go through parliament, rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said this would not be needed for the meat inspection part of the new body.
He wanted speedy action on the issue: “I am keen to explore how quickly this could be achieved. Legislation would not be needed so I would expect to transfer meat inspection, after discussions with the industry and the Food Standards Agency, before the new body is established.”
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller was attracted to the possibility of stripping out some of the inspection costs faced by abattoirs as a result of the new body, saying this would be a real boost to the whole of the livestock sector.
Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, also highlighted potential financial benefits.
“Improving efficiency and reducing waste in every link of the production chain is a priority,” he said, “and the introduction of a separate meat inspection service for Scotland makes sense in terms of operating as effectively as possible and reducing cost.
“Our industry takes pride in fantastic globally-acclaimed brands and we look forward to hearing more detail, in particular areas such as export certification.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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