‘Diseased meat could go undetected’ due to EU rule change

More diseased meat could end up in sausages and pies because of changes to safety checks in slaughterhouses, hygiene inspectors have warned.

Inspectors in abattoirs used to be able to cut open pig carcasses to check for signs of disease.

food.inspectorBut under new European regulations, supported by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), they will have to rely on visual checks alone.

The FSA says the new system avoids the risk of harmful bacteria being spread.

Around eight million pigs a year are slaughtered for meat in the UK.

Ron Spellman, a British meat inspector with 30 years’ experience, says the new regulations, which took effect from 1 June, risk diseased parts of animals going undetected.

Mr Spellman, who is director general of the European Working community for Food inspectors and Consumer protection (EWFC), which represents meat inspectors across the EU, said: “Last year we know that there were at least 37,000 pigs’ heads with abscesses or tuberculosis lesions in lymph nodes in the head. They won’t be cut now.

“There’s no way to see those little abscesses, little tuberculosis lesions without cutting those lymph nodes.”

Meat from pigs’ heads, is recovered by specialised parts of boning plants and goes into pies, sausages and other processed foods.

The new regulations have been drawn up by the European Food Safety Authority, an agency funded by the EU, but they are based on scientific advice from the FSA.