05 May 2011

British survey reveals most meat is contaminated

A new survey has revealed a shocking 80% of meat is contaminated, and that inspectors are presented with a high level of bullying from abattoir bosses when trying to conduct their investigations.

The survey published by UNISON, a European public sector union, shows the disturbing risk to public health due to understaffing and lack of support for meat inspectors in animal processing plants. Two thirds of inspectors have experienced threats, leading many of them to quit their jobs. The Food Standards Industry is pushing for the meat workers to self-inspect their plants, but 97% of inspectors warn that the industry cannot be trusted.

“Too many abattoir bosses are putting fast production before people safety. Inspectors need to be given adequate time to check carcasses for contamination, but some bullying bosses are making their jobs harder," said Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary. We need to beef up powers for independent meat safety inspectors and stop attempts by management to silence their complaints. Meat inspectors should be given the backing to raise standards across the industry. The Food Standards Agency must work as a strong independent inspectorate protecting the public, not abattoir bosses. The report should be the wake up call the industry needs to get meat safety right.”

The survey results included:
• 27% of inspectors said that more than 8 out of 10 carcasses presented to them were contaminated, in plants without ‘trimmers’ used to cut off contamination.
• In the plants with trimmers, inspectors reported 60% of carcasses were contaminated.
• 42% said that the FSA did not encourage them to report beaches of legislation with a view to enforcement procedures.
• 93% reported the FSA was not truly independent of the meat industry.
• Nearly two thirds of inspectors have been bullied while working at meat plants.
• Nearly half of inspectors have a colleague who has left due to bullying.
• Almost 60% say the bullying happens weekly, or more frequently.
• The biggest form of bullying was threats.

Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. She has a gorgeous daughter in second grade who has been a vegetarian her whole life (lucky girl). Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/kwerfeldein