The Food Standards Agency has decided to start publishing the results of audits undertaken in the UK’s meat-processing plants. They state that their aim in doing so is to offer more transparency to the public, although some representatives of the industry are complaining that the reports could be misleading.
The Food Standards Agency, however, are hoping that making the reports public will encourage those meat-processing plants that are currently a ‘cause for concern’ to improve their hygiene and food safety standards.
Contamination of food can occur at any stage of production. Meat is not the only food that poses a risk to health, as demonstrated by the outbreak of E. coli caused last year by contaminated beansprouts. But this case also highlights how serious the consequences of an outbreak can be.
Food processing plants have a duty to public health and safety to ensure that hygiene standards are upheld, by employees who have had food safety training and fully understand the risks involved. The FSA’s decision to publish audit reports is recent, and so it is not possible to say whether it will provide the desired results.