UNISON has urged MSPs debating the Food (Scotland) Bill today to make the interests of consumers paramount as they set up a new regulatory body, Food Standards Scotland.
The union is highlighting recent food scandals to make the case against deregulation.
More than 60% of chickens in the UK are now infected with the campylobacter food poisoning bug, which kills 110 people a year on average and sees 22,000 treated in hospital.
Despite this, the current UK regulators are scrapping independent inspection in poultry plants, allowing companies to appoint their own inspectors.
And the Scottish government recently promulgated regulations that allow visual only inspection of pigs in abbatoirs.
This means tumours and abscesses will be minced into the sausages and pies we eat.
“Meat inspectors and vets must be able to carry out thorough independent inspections, free from food industry influence,” says UNISON Scotland head of bargaining and campaigns Dave Watson.
“Councils must also be properly funded so that food outlets are regularly inspected.
“Since April 2012, meat inspectors and vets have prevented over a million instances of diseased animal carcasses from entering the food chain in Scotland,” he adds.
“MSPs are urged to recognise that simply creating a Scottish body to regulate food safety is not enough. They must legislate for higher standards to ensure the objectives set out in the bill are achieved.”
UNISON believes the primary concern of Food Standards Scotland must be to protect consumers not increase food industry profits.
The union says this will also protect the high quality Scottish food brand which is so important for Scottish jobs.