Giving evidence to a National Assembly inquiry into animal welfare and meat hygiene, the promotion body said the delivery of inspection tasks could also be split from the audit and enforcement functions in Wales. “We believe this would ensure the smooth running of plants without adversely affecting food safety or animal welfare,” said chief executive Gwyn Howells.
Part of the existing food safety and animal welfare enforcement structure involves supervision in Welsh abattoirs, where much of the work is carried out by the official vet. “In the case of ante mortem inspection it is suggested that consideration be given to the possibility of appointing suitably experienced individuals – who may not necessarily be veterinarians – to undertake this role,” said Howells. “This has the potential to deliver many benefits, both operational and financial, without compromising the high standards of animal welfare that the industry expects.”
Howells told Assembly members that funding provided by the Welsh Assembly Government to the Food Standards Agency to discount the cost of meat hygiene charges imposed on food operators was vital to the red meat industry in Wales, which employs more than 33,000 people and is valued at more than £361m to the Welsh economy.