Scottish Meat Inspection System – President reveals next step
An all-industry meeting, designed to ‘agree the way forward for the setting up of a Scottish Meat Inspection System’ is due to be held before the Scottish elections take place on May 5.
Delegates attending the annual SAMW conference in Glasgow on Saturday, April 16, were told of the meeting plan during the opening address by Association president, Alan Craig.
“We obviously must have unity of purpose across our industry as we move forward,” he said, adding that responses to date had been ‘seriously encouraging’.
“There is, in fact, already sufficient evidence of agreement and support to indicate that a Scottish Meat Inspection development roadmap can be placed on the new Minister’s desk at the Scottish Government within weeks, if not days, of the new administration taking office. That, certainly, is our objective.”
Earlier, when commenting on the conference theme of ‘Changing Times’, the president told delegates that, when circumstances demanded, SAMW was in the business of driving change and making things happen.
“We don’t believe in mending things which aren’t broken,” he said. “We do, however, believe that if something isn’t working then it needs to be fixed.
Then, in a direct comment on the new meat inspection plan,. He added: “This is especially the case when dealing with something which has arguably never performed to its potential and sadly, shows no sign of correcting itself.
Progressive & proactive
“This is the reason why SAMW, in partnership with NFU Scotland, and in harmony with other industry bodies, is currently asking the country’s political leaders to explore the case for Scotland to have its own Meat Inspection System. We believe this is a progressive and proactive move on behalf of the whole Scottish meat and livestock chain. We also believe the time has come to break the mould, as it applies to UK meat inspection. This is an area of our industry which has been lacking in success in recent years as regards matters of efficiency, partnership working and cost.
“Through the freedom of information process, we have recently learned what we believe to be the current costs of providing the service to the Scottish red meat Industry. The £6.5 million or £100,000 per annum per full-time equivalent has come as both a shock and disappointment to our members. Bearing in mind this is a not-for-profit organisation with no sales team, no factories, no packaging, no cold storage and no fleet of delivery vehicles. It is in essence, a service based SME providing a crucial food safety service for the industry and the public. We’re not convinced, however, it merits a United States Air force style of budget to deliver that service.”
Highlighting the fact that SAMW member businesses had a combined turnover of around £1 billion and provided direct employment for 3500 people, Mr Craig continued; “The meat business in Scotland is an industry to be proud of, an industry which is vital to the domestic economy and an industry of proven quality and global recognition. At present, however, it’s also an industry which is also under pressure and in need of fresh, effective and efficient solutions. To realise our current potential, and hopefully unlock future growth and development, we need the right structures, the right systems and the right people working for us and with us. Not against us.
Good sense solution
“This is why we opted to pursue the model of a separate Scottish Meat Inspection System. It’s a solution which we believe could help ease some of the pressures on our industry rather than add to them. It’s a solution which could include practical input from industry in meat inspection rather than exclude those who actually depend on product safety and purity for their livelihood. It’s a solution which, frankly, makes sense.
“We’re seriously encouraged by the many positive responses which this proposal has received and by the widespread debate which has begun. I can therefore announce this morning that between now and the Scottish elections on May 5 a meeting of all relevant bodies will be held to agree the way forward for the setting up of a Scottish Meat Inspection System. We obviously must have unity of purpose across our industry as we move forward. There is already sufficient evidence of agreement and support to indicate that a Scottish Meat Inspection development roadmap can be placed on the new Minister’s desk within weeks, if not days, of the new administration taking office.”
Conference videos are in production and will be posted later this month