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Review launched into pig meat standards

Review launched into pig meat standards

Although many people eat bacon, sausages, ham and pork, the public generally doesn't spend too much time thinking about how pig meat is handled before it is deemed suitable for sale.

However, concerns have been raised that the current methods used to handle such meat are archaic, unhygienic and in desperate need of updating to meet more modern standards.

In answer to this, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a six-week consultation into the matter, with the aim of introducing new regulations for pig meat inspections, which could come into force as early as June 2014.

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, said: "The current system needs modernising. Our meat hygiene controls were developed more than a century ago to tackle the health concerns of the day. A modernised inspection system will protect consumers better and be more proportionate to slaughterhouses that control risks effectively."

He added that the review needs to take the opinions of both consumers and those working with the meat before it is ready for sale into account to ensure new rules meet the standards of all those concerned.

The financial impact such changes will have on those working in the industry will be carefully considered, along with the benefits it may bring and the long-term effect new rules could potentially have on public health.

Recent scientific investigations have shown that the current method of hands-on inspection - which involves handling and cutting carcasses and offal - can result in the spreading of potentially harmful bacteria.

Following introduction of the new rules, such methods will only be used when inspections at the farm or abattoir have raised concerns about an animal's suitability of being sold for meat purposes.

Health checks will continue to be carried out on all pigs, but in a visual way to make it a more hygienic process. 

In addition to this, new rules will be introduced to control salmonella and prevent infection from the parasite Trichinella.

The FSA consultation will run until Tuesday May 6th.


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