4 December 1998

Abattoir hygiene slated

HYGIENE standards in abattoirs must improve if consumer confidence in British meat is to be regained, says farm minister, Nick Brown.

Commenting on the findings of a joint government and industry progress report on the work of the Meat Hygiene Service, Mr Brown said much still remained to be done to improve abattoir standards.

"There is no room for complacency where public health is concerned and abattoir standards must continue to improve if we are to increase consumer confidence in British meat," he said.

He added: "I have asked my officials to continue to work with the industry and have asked to see a further progress report in April next year."

Meanwhile the public service union, UNISON, has claimed that intimidation and threats of violence against abattoir staff are a threat to food safety standards.

UNISONs Keith Sonnet said: "Over the years we have heard horrific first-hand accounts of violence and threats against our members in the MHS. "Some have been attacked and threatened with knives and guns."

while others have had their cars vandalised and offices and property wrecked," said Mr Sonnet.

"Apart from actual attacks many staff face a continual tirade of obscenities and abuse, which slowly wears down their professional resolve. Abattoir violence then threatens food safety standards by making it very difficult for inspectors to carry out their jobs effectively. It must be tackled," he added.