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Food Safety Cuts Could Put Public at Risk
Leading food expert Professor Chris Elliott has warned that the ‘integrity of the food supply chain’ is being endangered by budget cuts. Professor Elliott who was appointed by the government to head a review into last year’s horsemeat scandal told the Daily Telegraph, “What we have to be careful of is that the budget cutting gets to a point where the integrity of our supply chains, the safety of the food that people eat, gets compromised to such a point that people start to die. I certainly hope that it doesn’t happen and all the indications are at the minute that the food industry is stepping up to the mark.”
The warnings come after the number of public analyst laboratories has been reduced from 15 to 11 in the last three years while Trading Standards Officers (TSO) are facing a 40 percent cut in funding. It’s widely expected that budget restraints will see a number of TSOs drop below the 2,000 mark for the first time.
Recent figures also show that the number samples taken by local authority officers has gone down from 21,343 in 2008 to just 9,958 in 2013. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) dispute the claims pointing out; “In the last year we have taken action to prevent food crime, including increasing unannounced inspections of meat cutting plants and boosting funding to £2 million to support local authorities’ food sampling programmes.”