UNISON welcomes meat industry report in UK

UNISON welcomes meat industry report

March 2009

A report calling for a review of the 'light touch' enforcement of meat hygiene and for more resources for food safety has been welcomed by the meat inspectors' union UNISON.

The union had earlier warned that the there had been too little support for meat hygiene workers. A UNISON survey had found 73 per cent of workers had witnessed bullying or harassment, with 57 per cent being subjected to it themselves. Forms included intimidation (36 per cent), abuse (29 per cent), malicious rumours (21 per cent), keeping staff out of decisions (31 per cent) and humiliation (28 per cent). Respondents put the bullying down to inadequate training, stressed managers and staff shortages.

The Pennington inquiry report, published on 19 March, called for more resources to be put into food safety. The inquiry followed a huge E.coli outbreak in South Wales, which killed a boy, five-year-old Mason Jones, and left over 150 people ill.

UNISON national officer Simon Watson commented: 'It is absolutely crucial that the industry acts on these recommendations to restore public confidence. We welcome 'light touch' enforcement being reviewed, as it is clear that it simply isn't working.' He added: 'The industry must not be allowed to inspect itself and we are deeply concerned that the government is pushing the EU to allow for more self-regulation in plants. Meat hygiene inspectors should be allowed to get on with their job of protecting the public from bad meat and not be intimidated or harassed by owners.'

Mr Watson said UNISON members had warned of bad practice at the plant responsible for the South Wales outbreak. 'If their warnings had been heeded then five-year-old Mason Jones would still be alive today,' he said.