A report on the need for cleanliness in the meat production chain, from farm to plate, to control the potential scourge of E coli was published yesterday, commissioned by red-meat promotion organization Quality Meat Scotland.

However, the report contains no recommendations on any part of the process, notably the problem of injuries to farmers and stockmen while clipping cattle pre-slaughter. It does say that alternatives are available, some in use in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, that could be explored within the European Union food regulations.

The report, called “Livestock Cleanliness, a whole chain approach,” is a comprehensive guide to how livestock are kept clean or cleaned for slaughter in other parts of the world and offered "vital insights into the latest scientific thinking".

The main impetus behind the need for cleanliness, and what makes the lack of recommendations more puzzling, is the spread of the virulent strain of E. coli 0157 in recent years.