Food Standards Agency set to impose new EU slaughter charges

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is asking for additional charges from processing firms if more animals have been slaughtered than expected in the current financial year.

The new system has come about because the EU now requires a minimum amount to be charged per animal slaughtered, meaning that those that have killed more animals will owe more money.

In a letter dated 29 October, FSA finance charges manager Terina Hurley put the increased amount down to the fact that "the data used to predict your 2010/11 discount was historic, and any changes in throughput or hours would change the dynamics of the calculation. We would therefore need to rework the calculation at the end of the 2010/11 financial year, using actual hours and throughput data.

Norman Bagley, Association of Independent Meat Suppliers policy director, criticised the new system, which overlapped the amount the FSA charged for inspectors with EU regulations on animals killed. "The FSA has a stupid system of charging by the hour, but then they have take it back to headage to make sure they meet EU requirements."

The move is likely to go down badly with abattoirs, which will see it as hitting those businesses that have done well the hardest.

However, a spokesperson for the FSA said: "We're not punishing businesses for being successful, it's just about legal requirements being met. The industry was fully warned with a letter in March, so the change is expected."

The amount will be calculated for the financial year to April, with invoices sent out in that month.

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