CON-DEM cuts to food industry inspections were blamed yesterday for a decline in chicken hygiene standards.
An investigation by the Guardian newspaper allegedly found a factory floor flooded with chicken guts and a factory where carcasses came into contact with workers’ boots and before being returned to the production line.
The allegations relate to 2 Sisters Food Group and Faccenda. Both companies denied them.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered a safety audit of the two poultry firms.
But general union Unite insists that much-improved inspection is urgently needed across the industry.
It warned that unless the food inspection service was restored to “at least” pre-coalition levels food standards would continue to decline.
A 2013 Food Standards Agency report showed that of the 608,143 local authority-registered food establishments in Britain more than 55 per cent had not received an inspection in the year April 2012 to March 2013.
Unite says the reduction in inspections follows a gradual but significant decline in food standards funding of £38.4 million since the coalition came to power.
“We are glad that Jeremy Hunt has woken up to the importance of food inspection, but he is a bit late to this party,” said Unite national officer Julia Long.
“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.”