Local businesses ‘under threat’ from inspection red tape, warns group

COSTLY red tape around meat inspection could put some local firms out of business, an industry group meeting in Suffolk today has warned.

Independent butchers, farm shops and other local businesses are under threat because of changes in the way the Food Standards Agency is applying rules on meat inspection and E-coli prevention, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The proposed changes could threaten the viability of some local firms, the FSB, which is holding a meeting with small businesses who may be affected by the changes today in Eye to discuss the implications, has claimed.

Ipswich butcher George Debman, who is an FSB member, says small businesses in the meat industry have been dealt a double blow by the agency, which has announced plans to make companies pay for meat inspections which the agency carries out.

The agency has also issued guidelines on the control of E-coli but, says Mr Debman, enforcement officers appear to be targeting butchers’ shops in particular.

“It is quite apparent that these regulations are forcing many butchers to consider their future, because they are faced with an uneven playing field,” he said.

Senior figures in the industry, led by Lady Caroline Cranbrook, who is the Vice President of the Suffolk Country Land and Business Association and chairman of the Eastern Region Grazing Forum, are meeting local MP Dan Poulter today to discuss ways of protecting small businesses across the county from what some of them claim is unfair implementation of the rules.

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Chris Soule, chairman of the FSB’s Suffolk branch, said: “The economy of Great Britain, this region and the county of Suffolk depends on a food industry sector that is able to function well and be confident of steady growth. Good government should not work against the industry but work with it.

“You can say with absolute certainty that our European competitors would not impose such disablingregulations and expense on their farmers and food industry, which suggests that the UK government has got it totally wrong. But maybe it is the intention of a nanny state to offer the British public homogenised pap rather than interesting and high quality food.”