Members of the association voiced concerns that the FSA had “overstepped its mark as a non-ministerial government department”, after it posted a tweet on the social networking site Twitter suggesting it was actively supporting the campaign.
“Its [the FSA’s] role is not that of lobbyist, but to use its expertise and influence so that people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and honest,” said AIMS.
“At no point should it be actively influencing people to make a particular dietary choice.”
AIMS head of policy Norman Bagley told FoodManufacture.co.uk that he had questioned the FSA response and asked for more clarity on the association’s position on the meat-free week campaign.
‘What is your proper position’
“They’ve [The FSA] have taken the tweet down and say that it isn’t their proper position. So we [AIMS] asked, what is your proper position on these matters?” said Bagley.
“Given this is not an area within their remit, we need an explanation as to what their position is.
“At the end of the day, the meat industry pays them about £28M a year to inspect and verify abattoirs and premises and this is what we get for it.”
The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT) took to twitter to voice its disapproval of the FSA tweet.
Voice its disapproval
In response, the FSA said: “Of course there are lots of good reasons to eat meat, it’s good for people to make a conscious choice.”
The original tweet has since been taken down from the site, with the FSA saying it did not properly reflect its position.
AIMS represents small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the slaughtering and further processing sector.
Its members serve livestock farmers’ whole range of needs and satisfy consumer requirements through a range of outlets including retail butchers, supermarkets and the foodservice industry.
A spopkeswoman from the FSA said it used twitter and other similar sites to interact with consumers.
“We use our social media channels to flag up many food-related initiatives that consumers might be interested in, helping consumers make choices that are right for them.
“On this occasion the wording of the tweet was not appropriate and did not properly reflect our position, so we have removed the message.”
What is meat-free week?
An annual campaign, taking place on August 1–8 2016, meat-free week challenges participants to give up meat for one week and raise money via sponsorship for bowel cancer awareness.
The goal is that for the other 51 weeks of the year meat-eaters will consider portion sizes when including meat as part of a balanced diet.
From the meat-free week website.