6 Apr 2011

Union unconvinced by MAF meat inspection assurances

9:13 am on 6 April 2011

The union representing meat inspectors still has concerns about possible changes to inspection procedures, despite assurances from the Ministry of Agriculture.

A trial is continuing at AFFCO's Imlay plant at Whanganui to assess the feasilbity of meat company employees carrying out some of the non-health, related quality checks on sheep and lamb carcasses currently done by the inspectors.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) says that's in line with international trends, and meat inspectors would remain responsible for food safety if changes were introduced.

MAF has said food safety and health issues won't be compromised and meat inspectors will be consulted before any changes are put into place.

But the union representing the 850 inspectors, the Public Service Association, isn't reassured.

National secretary Richard Wagstaff says despite claims to the contrary, there's been little consultation about the trials so far with the inspectors or overseas markets.

He says the United States stopped accepting meat from the trials.

Mr Wagstaff says meat inspectors also challenge the industry view of what constitutes food safety issues, and that meat inspectors should examine such matters as testing for fecal contamination.