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  • Writer's pictureUNISON Food Members

216,938 people tell the Food Standards Agency to keep meat inspection independent

Today UNISON, Steve Nash (Consumer Advisor on E.coli 0157) and Sean Humber (Lawyer from Leigh Day & Co) handed in our petition to the new Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) calling on the FSA to keep meat inspections independent and provided by the state. The petition on the ‘’ platform has reached a colossal 216,938 signatures.

UNISON has taken this action not just to support our members working for the Food Standards Agency and as local government Environmental Health Officers, but also on behalf of the public. This is a consumer issue. It is a public health issue. It is a quality issue. It is an animal welfare issue. And it is the responsibility of central and local government.

The reality of the protection that UNISON members provide is ever more real when you read about the Nash family tragedy, as Steve Nash describes:

“Our six year old daughter Joanna was a beautiful, healthy, fun loving child without a care in the world. A bright future lay ahead of her until suddenly it came to a halt. Joanna ate meat at a fast food restaurant which contained the deadly bacterium E.coli O157 and what came next was unimaginable. “She suffered excruciating stomach pains with sickness and diarrhoea, her kidneys failed and even with the help of dialysis she deteriorated rapidly. Joanna suffered multi organ failure and within nine days she was dead.” Joanna's story is not an isolated case. Apart from loss of life, people have suffered brain damage, kidney damage, seizures and more, all because of consuming contaminated meat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been reducing the number of public ‘protection’ servants - state employed MHIs and OVs. Their plans include leaving the slaughterhouses to carry out their own inspections for hygiene and safety. These inspections – examining animals before and after slaughter to check that the meat is safe and free from contamination - currently happen on site, every day during working hours. However, the FSA talk about ‘risk-based’ inspections of slaughterhouses which will mean the food business will not get inspected for years at a time. We all know what happens when producers are left without supervision: profit comes before people. For an organisation such as FSA to contemplate such a dangerous strategy in terms of public health is unbelievable.

UNISON has therefore launched the Protect Our Food campaign which promotes the role of our members in the FSA and in local government.

Will you join us and the Nash Family in protecting our food?

Get involved by visiting, following @protectourfood on Twitter and ‘liking’ our Facebook page at

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