The proposals were approved by the FSA board last week and described as a ‘watershed’ for the industry by FSA chairman Dame Deirdre Hutton.
In April last year four industry associations called on the FSA to review meat hygiene controls. A month later an EU Food and Veterinary Office mission reported that health measures were inadequate in many UK slaughterhouses and also called for change.
Most recently, UNISON, the union that represents meat hygiene inspectors, asked for a transformation after finding that between 40 and 100 per cent of carcases inspected in certain abattoirs had faecal contamination.
A key change will be the application of meat hygiene controls based on risk assessments.
Alick Simmons, veterinary director at the FSA, said it would be a ‘fundamental shift’ in the agency’s approach.The review aims to make sure resources of the meat hygiene service are properly controlled and to get measures that are appropriate to risks. But I want to emphasise that we remain wholeheartedly focused on protecting public health,” said Mr Simmons.
The key recommendations supported by the FSA board are:
• Meat hygiene controls will be more proportionate to risk.
• Controls will be delivered by a transformed Meat Hygiene ServicesMHS.
• A new charging system will move costs into industry hands.
• Local authorities will be able to deliver controls in low-throughput premises.
• Barriers to the greater use of plant inspection assistants (PIAs) in the poultry industry will be removed.
• An advisory body will be set up to advise on how to implement the agreed changes.