I have learnt today that the Food Safety Authority in collaboration with the meat Industry are about to conduct a trial on a new system of meat inspection at freezing works without the assistance of Meat Inspectors.
It is an interesting contradiction and my fear is that industry self regulation is the object of the exercise. Such ideals have proven all too often to be disastrous from international experience. At a time when the meat industry is under extreme pressure at every level from farmer to marketplace the risk is that inadequate inspection leading to any form of contaminated export meat would cripple our meat exports and reputation as a quality food producing nation.
Apparently no details have been made available to the meat inspectors so the assumption is that chain workers will carry out assessment of the health of the carcasses and the Vets will sign off the consignments for export. If you presume no skill is necessary to be a meat inspector we might be ok. But as I know to get the inspections spot on takes training, skill and experience. One mistake identified by our trading buyers and we are doomed.
The question is, does the risk justify the cost savings if any over time?? It is also ironic that in Select Committee today the Food Safety Authority was trying to convince us of the importance of robust systems for food safety under the new Food Bill.
There will be a few hard Questions for them at the next meeting !!!