The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set out a string of recommendations for the meat industry following a series of high profile incidents that "cast a shadow over the whole sector and not just the businesses directly at fault".
In a draft review of the results of an investigation launched after scandals at Russel Hume and 2 Sisters Food Group, the agency sets out 19 suggestions to assure meat is packaged and labelled accurately. The government body also calls for more transparent and effective use of data as well as increased training across the sector and clearer guidance around industry regulations.
In February this year butcher Russel Hume went into administration after an investigation was launched by the FSA into allegations of non-compliance with food hygiene regulations. It was alleged the company had incorrectly date labelled produce.
Following the launch of that investigation companies including JD Wetherspoon and Jamie's Italian ended their contracts with the supplier.
In March this year the FSA published a report into its investigation into 2 Sisters Food Group following a media expose by into the company's hygiene practices, finding "sporadic poor hygiene and bad practice", but said that it did not represent "widespread systematic failures".
Jason Feeney, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: "We launched this review following a series of high profile events over the last 12 months at a number of meat businesses.
"These incidents cast a shadow over the whole sector and not just the businesses directly at fault. This challenged consumer confidence and trust in the industry as a whole."
Geoff Ogle, Chief Executive of Food Standards Scotland, added: ‘This review is essential for ensuring the public continues to have full confidence in the safety of the UK's meat industry.
"The majority of our meat sector acts responsibly ensuring food safety compliance across their process, and it is important that the actions of a minority do not damage the reputation of the whole sector.
"That's why we and the Food Standards Agency have looked at a comprehensive evidence base and have made wideranging recommendations for improvement for both industry and regulators that will ensure the high standards and safety we expect in our meat industry."