UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is calling for stricter control of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), after doubts were cast over its independence. The body is calling for greater deregulation of meat inspection in the UK and Europe, which the union believes could pose a health risk to consumers.
A survey by the Corporate Europe Observatory* reveals a tangled network of links between the EFSA and big business interests, adding up to a potential conflict of interest. UNISON is warning that, on EFSA advice, the UK Government, is introducing visual only pig meat inspection from June 2014 which it believes poses a threat to food safety and quality.
Paul Bell, UNISON National Officer for Meat Inspectors, said:
“There is no safe substitute for hands on meat inspection. Inspectors tell us that simply looking at a pig carcass will not deliver the high standards of protection of safety and quality that consumers have a right to expect.
“There is a real danger that ending physical inspection, will lead to meat containing an abscess or tumour getting into the food chain. It will be minced into processed food like sausages and ham and customers will be none the wiser.
“Consumers need to know that any decisions about meat inspection are being made in their best interests and it seems clear that this is now not the case.
This survey casts many doubts over how the decision to change the inspection regime was made. It cannot be right that such a potential conflict of interest between the EFSA and consumers is allowed to continue.
“In light of this information the Government should put any further decisions about meat inspection on hold until tougher controls are made on the EFSA.”