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Meat hygiene breaches spark concern

March 1st, 2018 | by LCN Editor
Meat hygiene breaches spark concern

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced a nationwide review of abattoirs and cold stores after a major study found high levels of non-compliance with safety procedures at plants across Northern Ireland, England and Wales over the last three years.

The review found that, on average, there were 16 ‘major’ plant safety infractions at the factories every week between 2014 and last year, according to data published recently by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian newspaper.

A ‘major’ breach is defined as a failing that could compromise public health, including the safety of the food chain, if remedial action is not undertaken.

Almost two-thirds of audited abattoirs inspected had at least one instance of major non-compliance with hygiene or food safety regulations – and several of the plants were guilty of multiple failures.

Among the infractions recorded were 221 major non-compliances relating to the maintenance of legal temperature controls and more than 300 connected to minimising the risk of cross-contamination – one of the most common causes of food poisoning.

North-west chef and author, Emmett McCourt, says that any concerns over the handling of meat before it reaches consumers’ plates is a cause for significant concern:

“The whole thing here is about trust and traceability,” he told LCN this month. “And this turns that on its head.

“Everything here is about food provenance now and it’s about having the confidence to trust our meat suppliers, so for me, this does ring alarm bells.”

Emmett, who founded the Irish Food Heritage Project and regularly delivers food demonstrations at locations all over NI, says that excellent relationships between local chefs and their regular suppliers will go a long way towards allaying any fears that consumers might have:

“We do have great relationships with our butchers and meat suppliers and they only supply us with the best produce,” he added. “But something like this does certainly knock confidence.”


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