Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Jeff Rooker, insists that the agency can no longer 'subsidise' the meat industry as a matter of principle.
The former Defra Minister said plans to shift around £32 m of Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) costs onto the meat and livestock sectors are not being driven by financial concerns but by a conflict of interest in the agency's role as both regulator and funder of the industry.
The meat and livestock industries have condemned the plans. In a letter to Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman before Christmas, a coalition of 13 industry bodies aruged that the FSA had not done enough to cut the costs of meat controls and urged her to defer the move until a review has been undertaken to identify further savings.
However Lord Rooker made it clear that the FSA has no intention of relenting. "We should not be using taxpayers' money to subsidise an industry that we regulate" he said.