11 April 1997

Labour attack on food safety

GOVERNMENTS failure to fully enforce food safety rules shows the desperate need for an independent food organisation to protect consumers, according to Opposition parties.

Speaking at Abergavenny livestock market, Labours farm spokesman, Gavin Strang, claimed the E coli and BSE crises had shown the governments record on food safety had operated against the interest of farmers, taxpayers and the food industry.

"The £3.5bn BSE crisis and the E coli outbreak in Lanarkshire, which resulted in serious loss of life, have made unanswerable the case for Labours Food Standards Agency."

Shadow foreign secretary, Robin Cook, said it was "essential that the public should know the regulations are set and the enforcement is controlled by an agency independent of both politicians and the food industry".

Paul Tyler, Lib Dem rural affairs spokesman, said the drive to shut down smaller, more local abattoirs and the creation of the mammoth Meat Hygiene Service "are both now shown to have disadvantages". Longer distances for animal transportation inevitably lead to more stress and contamination. "The MHS obsession with commercial considerations, including lower training and experience requirement, inevitably leads to blinkered watchdogs for standards."