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The FSA, Food Standards Scotland and meat sector representatives have promised to redouble their efforts to ensure consumers retain confidence following the recent spate of meat scandals.

The regulators met with 10 industry bodies at a summit in London yesterday to “discuss concerns arising from the recent examples of non-compliance with food hygiene”.

Those present included the British Poultry Council, the British Meat Processors Association and the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, in addition to farming, butchery and export groups.

In a joint statement released by the FSA, discussions were described as constructive and engaging, with all at the meeting “agreeing the need for close collaboration and co-operation between regulators and industry in responding to the issues raised by recent events”.

It added: “As regulators and industry bodies we have a shared interest in making sure that consumer trust in the UK meat industry remains high. The food chain depends on trust and we want people to be confident that the meat they enjoy has been produced to the highest standards.”

The meeting was welcomed by the likes of the BPC and BMPA, which both highlighted the importance of working closely with the FSA and the wider sector to rebuild consumer confidence, while AIMS director Norman Bagley described the summit as a “work in progress”.

Bagley added there was “understandable confusion” surrounding the 10-day use-by guidance used by meat processors, “which industry believes is not scientifically appropriate for fresh meat”, but said the FSA was now engaging on the topic, which could help “clear up any misunderstandings, whether by regulators or industry alike”.

It follows news that meat supplier Russell Hume fell into administration earlier this week, following enforcement action by the FSA and FSS over concerns over use-by labelling. Other suppliers such as DB Foods and Fairfax Meadow have also been subject to scrutiny in recent weeks, while 2 Sisters Food Group was involved in a separate, high-profile incident over mislabelling last autumn.

Fresh claims also emerged against Russell Hume last week when ITV News ran a report suggesting the company had also been falsifying the traceability of imported beef and marketing it as British, though Russell Hume said it did not “recognise the allegations”.

The FSA/FSS and industry statement added: “We recognise some concerns have been uncovered by recent regulatory inspections. In most cases businesses involved have taken actions to demonstrate compliance and continue to trade normally. Where those concerns were serious, enforcement procedures have been put in place.

“We will continue to work together to support meat businesses in fully understanding what is expected of them in relation to current regulations and ensuring full and effective industry engagement with the forthcoming FSA/FSS review of cutting plants and cold stores.”