Inspectors close dirty abattoirs

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The Government ordered its inspectors yesterday to shut down dirty slaughterhouses as part of a drive against sub-standard food hygiene. Jeff Rooker, minister for food safety, said lax standards were "still too common" in abattoirs and regulations had to be enforced more vigorously. The move follows criticism over poor hygiene in abattoirs linked to the spread of the E.coli virus and the mishandling of body parts potentially contaminated with BSE.

Addressing a forum organised by the Meat Hygiene Service, which co-ordinates the work of inspectors, and attended by members of the meat slaughter and processing industry, Mr Rooker said consumer interests must come first. "Every piece of meat that we eat must be produced to the highest of standards. Abattoirs are a part of the food industry and must protect their customers in the same way as any other food company. The public has every right to expect top standards," he said.