A union has said that there could be a potential shortage of meat around the Christmas period due to a possible strike from staff of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Staff for the FSA, who are represented by Unison, are being balloted for potential stike action over a pay dispute.

Hundreds of inspectors, vets and office-based staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are involved, and could bring the industry to a halt if they vote to walk out.

Staff are demanding a pay rise of 10% after rejecting a pay rise of between 2% and 5% earlier in the year.

York Press: Food Standards Agency staff will have until October 31 to vote on a strike (PA)Food Standards Agency staff will have until October 31 to vote on a strike (PA) (Image: PA)

The strike ballot will close on Monday, October 31 with Unison adding that the strikes could take place in the run-up to and over Christmas.

The last time FSA staff took part in strike action was in October 2014.

Unison head of local government Mike Short said: “FSA staff play a vital role in keeping contaminated meat off people’s plates.

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“But many have to work in difficult and unpleasant conditions inspecting carcasses for signs of disease.

“These employees protect consumers, ensure good animal welfare, and must be rewarded accordingly.

The FSA needs to come up with a significantly higher offer to avoid any disruption.”