The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has urged the Government to think about the role vets play in ensuring food safety.

BVA’s John Blackwell says any cuts or changes must be “carefully considered”.

According to the association, Defra must offer “full and careful consideration” to the profession’s role, which could also help to protect animal and human health.

The BVA’s call follows a report in the Guardian today of recommendations made to the cabinet office-led Red Tape Challenge.

According to the report, external consultants have recommended Defra makes cuts to health inspections on farms, as well as the use of non-vets to carry out bovine TB testing.

In respond, BVA president John Blackwell said the association does “understand the pressures on public spending and the need for efficiencies and appropriate lessening of the regulatory burden on business”, but “cannot overstate the importance of any cuts or changes being carefully considered from a fully informed perspective with an eye to long term-consequences, not simply short-term expediency”.

“Cuts cannot come at the expense of animal welfare and health, which, if compromised, can have serious consequences for human health and food production,” he said.

“Defra works closely with vets and is aware of the critical role vets play in disease surveillance – Defra’s own survey highlights local vets are a trusted source of key information to their clients and this is fundamental to ensuring robust disease control and eradication strategies.

“If these reports are true, our message to Defra is don’t downgrade the role of vets in food safety and animal health and welfare,” he continued. “It is important to stress any attempt to reduce regulation by Government should not increase risk by reducing the pivotal role vets carry out in public health and food safety, alongside animal health and welfare.”

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