The long-overdue modernization of European meat inspection remains on track following the approval of visual assessments and Food Chain Information as the core processes for ensuring that meat is produced in the correct way and is safe to eat.
"We've been working for the last three years to bring sense and reality into Europe's 100-year-old meat inspection structure and are delighted that last-ditch attempts to block changes to EU pig inspection were defeated in the European Parliament earlier this month," said Alan McNaughton, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW). "If MEPs had voted in favor of the status quo for pig inspections they would have killed inspection reforms across the whole meat industry. That would have been a disaster in relation to the continued growth and development of our own forward-looking and high quality Scottish meat industry.
"Thankfully, a united effort by industry bodies, the Food Standards Agency and several UK MEPs, blocked the wrecking move, to the enormous benefit of meat production, processing and consumption in the years ahead."
The way is now clear for pork to be declared fit for human consumption following a detailed visual assessment of the carcass concerned, aligned to the provision of all necessary Food Chain Information (FCI). Exposing carcasses to systematic incision or palpation, which has been around for more than a century, will no longer be the routine inspection answer, almost regardless of what questions were asked. These processes will still be available for use when appropriate, of course, but will not be trotted out purely for historic reasons.
"It is entirely correct that processes designed to counter the common disease and infection risks of the early 1900s should be removed from modern meat inspection," said McNaughton. "The new approach we now have for pigs, and can begin looking forward to having for cattle and sheep, is efficient, effective and totally science-based. It addresses the disease and infection risks we face today, and it does it very well indeed."
The SAMW president also paid tribute to the involvement in the pig vote process of Scottish MEPs George Lyon and Alyn Smith, FSA's Javier Dominguez and the team at UECBV.
"The combined efforts of George, Alyn and Javier were extremely effective in the run up to this crucial vote," said McNaughton. "The time and effort taken in relation to this issue, by such a broadly-based spread of people and organizations, highlights the importance of the decision which has now been reached. In fact, while meat inspection and legislation often attracts many differing views and opinions, this was one issue on which all sides came together to the long-term benefit of producers, processors and consumers."