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Party of Wales MEP fears damage to consumer confidence over meat inspections


Party of Wales MEP Jill Evans has reiterated her concerns about changes to the inspection of pig meat.
On 1 July new rules will be introduced to replace the physical inspection of pigs in slaughterhouses with visual-only inspection. These changes to the inspection of pigs are the first to have been proposed by the European Commission who will be making proposals on the inspections of each animal group in turn.

Jill Evans MEP, who is a longstanding campaigner on food safety issues, was one of five MEPs from the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee to write an objection to the proposed changes to the inspection of pigs.

Unfortunately a majority of MEPs voted against the objection in plenary.

Jill Evans MEP said that there had been a lot of lobbying from the UK government asking her to drop the objection:

"As an MEP, it is my responsibility to protect the interests of producers and consumers in Wales, and this is why I decided to object to the changes to meat inspections. I arranged a meeting with an official from the UK Food Standards Agency who confirmed that it will be very large slaughterhouses that will benefit financially from the change. This could be detrimental for farms and meat producers in Wales as this will allow large meat producers to drive their prices down and monopolise the market.

“A major concern is that in large abattoirs where there is a high throughput speed of more than 500 pigs per hour, visual-only inspections would not be effective meaning that abnormalities such as abscesses or tumours might not be detected. Breaches of animal welfare may also remain undetected if organs are not examined properly.

“I have always campaigned for people to support local businesses and buy their food locally and one positive thing to have come out of the horsemeat scandal was that it changed consumers attitudes towards food, people started to question where their food was coming from and more people started to buy meat from their local butchers.

“With these rule changes on meat inspections we run the risk of losing consumer confidence and this could damage Welsh businesses."

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