Geoffrey Podger, chief executive of the UK Food Standards Agency, said he has received assurances from the food industry that it will cooperate with its investigation into the use of mechanically recovered meat (MRM) in food sold since the outbreak of BSE in the late 1980s.

Speaking on this morning's [Friday's] Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Podger said he felt optimistic about the inquiry.

His comments follow remarks made on the programme yesterday morning by senior members of SEAC, the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, who criticised the food industry for withholding information vital to calculating the risk of more people contracting vCJD, the human variant of BSE.

Celia Bennett, director of the British Meat Manufacturers Association, said: "We are aware of this perception on the part of SEAC that the industry is withholding information - but that's not true - we are doing our utmost, and are in discussion with the Food Standards Agency and advising our members about it and acting as an intermediary on this issue."

Meanwhile Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on food issues, said yesterday's comments showed there was a culture of secrecy in the food industry.

Hugh Pennington, Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University and an expert on food safety, said he regretted the lack of openness of the forthcoming inquiry.

To see yesterday's report on the comments made by SEAC scientists, click here.


To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Meat & Meat Products

Meat Hygiene - New Edition

Handbook of Meat Product Technology