Stripping cost out of the meat supply chain is a risky ambition for processors and retailers, as was demonstrated on Monday when a strongly worded statement by Scottish wholesalers' leader Alan Kirkwood attracted only cautious support from some others in the industry. Kirkwood attacked agriculture minister Nick Brown for refusing to abandon 100% veterinary cover in slaughterhouses as recommended by the recent MAFF sponsored Pooley Report on easing the regulatory burden on meat companies. Vets and meat inspectors are regarded as expensively duplicating the public health function, the extra cost contributing to the widening farmgate/retail price spread which provokes criticism of retailers from producers and consumers. On the other hand even Kirkwood's colleagues acknowledge any deregulatory move likely to be misinterpreted as relaxing meat safety controls could spark protests from the same critics on the consumer side. {{MEAT }}