UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Cutting meat inspectors to the bone is a recipe for horsemeat

In 1906 the left wing American writer Upton Sinclair published his classic novel ‘The Jungle’ which exposed the rotten and unhygienic working conditions in the US meat packing industry. It caused a sensation and literally within a few months the Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed.

During the ensuing century, regulations to set and ensure compliance with high standards of meat hygiene were introduced in the public interest in the UK and many other countries. However in recent years, in response to big business lobbying and corporate interests, deregulatory policies of both the European Commission and UK Government have led to a growing share of meat inspection duties being handed over to the private sector meat industry and to a massive reduction in independent inspections (inspector numbers have more than halved in the past 15 years). This sorry state of affairs was outlined in an excellent UNISON statement yesterday:

UNISON has long warned of the catastrophic consequences of cuts in trading standards and meat hygiene services and the current revelations of large scale sub-standard meat products and corporate fraud will come as no surprise to our members working in those services. A recent article in a trade journal highlighted UNISON concerns about further a planned watering down of EU meat inspections.