The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are warning that the shortage of veterinary professionals delivering food safety inspections in Great Britain poses a threat to public and animal health. The agencies have asked for collaboration to deliver legislative reform, financial backing, a supportive immigration policy, and a systematic strategy to deliver rewarding and sustainable veterinary careers.

The agencies are urging wider government and the veterinary profession to work together to develop a sustainable approach to UK’s veterinary capacity and capability. FSA’s ability to deliver veterinarian-led inspections in slaughterhouses is under sustained pressure because of vet workforce shortages, putting at risk consumer trust in meat and animal welfare standards. Not having sufficient veterinary capacity could also impede export capability.

According to FSA/FSS, the UK is reliant on immigrant veterinary professionals to carry out critical public health and animal welfare work in slaughterhouses, with very few UK-trained vets currently interested in doing this work. At present, of the approximately 30 veterinarians employed by FSS, only one part-time official is a UK national.

FSS and FSA official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors work together to inspect every animal and carcass in UK slaughterhouses, playing an essential function in livestock farming and protecting public health.