The government's plan to set up a food safety centre without a role for vets is 'a recipe for disaster', the Veterinary Association said yesterday. Association president Veronica Leong Yin-ming said the new plan did not provide for veterinary posts, just as there was no place for vets under the current food inspection system. She said that unlike in developed countries, Hong Kong's slaughterhouses for cattle, pig, ducks and geese were not supervised by veterinarians. 'Hong Kong is probably the only developed [place] in the world without permanent and direct veterinary supervision of slaughterhouses,' said Dr Leong, who is also a member of the Veterinary Surgeons Board. 'Veterinary supervision is extremely crucial to prevent diseased animals entering the food chain. [The government's plan] completely fails to address these needs by providing no additional veterinary posts and support staff,' she said. According to industry sources, animals are inspected by meat inspectors who do not have veterinary qualifications but are instead trained on the job. Though more inspectors will be hired under the new system, their qualifications are expected to be similar to those under current practices. A letter raising the association's concerns has been sent to members of the Legislative Council's health services and food safety and environmental hygiene panels on the eve of today's joint meeting to discuss the revised plan, which focuses on the importance of inspection of mainland poultry, livestock and fish farms. Fred Li Wah-ming, chairman of the Legco food panel who will chair today's meeting, threw cold water on the vets' plea. 'I do not think we could have a fair judgment on these things when it comes to the operational level,' he said.