Scottish meat industry in ‘constructive’ talks with enforcement agency

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Food Standards Scotland has met with the Scottish red meat industry
Food Standards Scotland has met with the Scottish red meat industry

Related tags: Food standards agency

A meeting between representatives of the Scottish meat industry and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has been hailed as “constructive” by parties from both sides.

The meeting was held in the wake of a series of enforcement actions by both the FSS and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over non-compliance by meat suppliers. This included a suspension of production at Russell Hume and unannounced inspections at DB Foods and Fairfax Meadow, which led to the withdrawal of products.

Present at the meeting were Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA), Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Scotland Food & Drink, National Farmers Union Scotland and the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee.

The FSA had previously held a meeting with the meat industry representatives to discuss the issue.

In a statement on the meeting, the FSS said: “Both FSS and industry recognised the importance of public confidence and trust in food safety and the need to maintain Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for excellent food and drink produce, and on the economy as a whole.

“The discussion was constructive, with all in the meeting agreeing the need for close collaboration and co-operation between regulators and industry in addressing the issues raised by recent events.”

Representatives from the meat industry also welcomed the talks.

SFMTA said it was “pleased to be included in talks”​ and agreed for the need for close “collaboration and co-operation between regulators and industry”​.

Chief executive Douglas Scott told Food Manufacture: “The meeting was useful and positive. The meat industry in Scotland does not like to be non-compliant in any way and FSS has agreed to answer the many questions that our members have pertaining to the interpretation of current vacuum packing and use-by dates guidance.”

Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim McLaren said: “The Scottish red meat industry works very hard to produce top-quality beef, lamb and pork, which has earned a global reputation for taste and traceability.

“The red meat industry is one of the most heavily regulated and monitored and it is vital the quality reputation of our products is not undermined and that any isolated cases of poor practice are quickly identified and firmly dealt with.

“To this end, the work undertaken by the food crime and incident units of FSS and the FSA is welcomed by our industry and adds to the range of measures in place which underpin the integrity of meat from Scotland.

“QMS will continue to work with FSS, and other organisations, to ensure investigations continue to be robust and effective.”

An SAMW spokesman also said it “welcomedcollaboration”​ with FSS.

“SAMW member companies are fully and unreservedly committed to meeting the food safety requirements placed on the industry by FSS. Food safety is of paramount importance to all member businesses, underpinning the premium quality of Scottish red meat from farm to retail and the consumer trust on which all food producers depend.

"We welcome the closer collaboration we now have with FSS and will fully engage with the regulators in relation to the planned UK-wide review."

David Thomson, CEO of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland, said: “Food safety is the industry’s number-one priority. It is extremely important to us that consumers trust and enjoy Scotland’s high quality products. The meeting on Tuesday was very positive and we are committed to working in partnership with Food Standards Scotland and industry partners from across the food chain.”

Last month, the FSA and FSS announced a review of meat cutting plant and cold stores throughout the UK.

Related topics: Food Safety, Meat, poultry & seafood

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