The food inspection service must be restored to at least pre-coalition levels to avert food safety concerns, Unite, the biggest union in the food industry, urged today (Friday, July 25).
A 2013 Food Standards Agency report shows that of the 608,143 local authority-registered food establishments in the UK, more than 55 per cent did not receive an inspection in the year April 2012 to March 2013.
The drop in inspections follows a gradual but significant decline in food standards funding of £38.4 million, since the coalition came to power.
Unite said that while it welcomed the call from the health secretary Jeremy Hunt for food inspectors to be sent into two chicken factories at the centre of an expose by the Guardian, the need for much-improved inspection right across the industry continues.
Julia Long, Unite's national officer for the food sector, said: "We are glad that Jeremy Hunt has woken up to the importance of food inspection, but he is a bit late to this party. Where was he when we were fighting to stop cuts to the service?
"Food processing is one of our fastest-growing industries, employing hundreds of thousands of workers. The industry needs an inspection regime that respects this and understands that public safety and confidence are paramount. At the moment, thanks to the running down of the service, a business can look forward to an inspection only once in a blue moon.
"If the government is serious about standards across this industry it must beef up our inspection services, and stop deriding health and safety protections as needless red tape. They are central to public and workforce welfare."
For further information please contact Unite communications officer, Rae Passfield on 020 3371 2058 and/or Unite national officer, Julia Long on 020 7611 2668.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to Editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.