A quarter of UK abattoirs 'failing basic hygiene precautions'
More than a quarter of abattoirs fail to take basic hygiene precautions to prevent contaminated meat reaching butchers and supermarkets, it has been reported.
Consumers could be at risk of acute food poisoning from exposure to E.coli, salmonella or campylobacter due to breaches identified at the slaughterhouses.
Analysis of government audits at 323 abattoirs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by The Observer and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism identified failings at 86 of them.
The breaches, logged during inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), included instances of carcasses touching dirty factory floors while others were splashed with water potentially contaminated with faecal matter.
The newspaper said a whistleblower also reported records being falsified, raising the risk that contaminated meat had entered the food chain.
When animals arrive for slaughter they are often covered in faeces and dirt from farms or transport.
Under safety rules any visibly contaminated meat has to be removed from a carcass.
However an expert who led a review into fatal E.coli outbreaks warned the precaution does not go far enough as microbes invisible to the naked eye could be missed.