In-house meat inspection puts meat industry risk New Zealand

The Public Service Association says the economic fallout from the Fonterra milk contamination could be repeated in the meat industry if companies continue to have the power to inspect their own meat.

Last year the government gave the go-ahead to a number of meat companies to carry out their own in-house meat inspections rather than using trained, specialist and independent government meat inspectors employed by AsureQuality.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says it’s an experiment which opens up our meat export industry to a huge amount of risk.

“What is happening with Fonterra milk products shows just how costly a contamination problem can be to New Zealand’s export trade and to the economy as a whole.  Contamination in one area of Fonterra’s production supply chain has cast a shadow over all other New Zealand dairy products and is putting the reputation of New Zealand’s entire dairy industry under threat.”

“The same thing could happen in our billion dollar meat export industry if just one company is caught out not conducting proper inspections or if contaminated product got through,” he says.

At the moment in-house meat inspection is happening in about five plants but AFFCO has indicated it may soon move all its plants to company inspection.

Richard Wagstaff says “there’s an inherent conflict of interest in companies inspecting their own meat which will encourage short-cuts and see commercial interests overriding robust standards of food safety and quality control.  The risks are huge and the PSA and meat inspectors have been repeatedly trying to raise concerns.”

“The government needs to join the dots and realise that it only takes one contaminated product to put all others at risk, and bring valuable primary industries to their knees.”

“In the interests of food safety, market confidence and economic strength, we urge the government to reinstate a meat inspection regime across all meat companies which is regulated by independent government meat inspectors,” he says.

05 Aug 2013