FSA publishes meat plant audit reports

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has gone ahead with its controversial plans to publish audit reports of approved meat plants in England, Scotland and Wales, with the first audits published on its website yesterday (16 January).

The first tranche included more than 200 audits that have been completed since 1 November 2011. From now on, around 200 audits will be issued at the end of each month.

Tim Smith, chief executive of the FSA, said: “We think it’s important that people have access to this type of information; it shows not only the FSA’s commitment to publishing all useful information, but we hope publication will also help businesses to maintain high standards in this vital food sector.”

The FSA is publishing the audits in order to make sure that food business operators (FBOs) are complying with legal requirements and ensure that they meet the relevant standards in relation to public health as well as  animal health and welfare in slaughterhouses. FBOs have up to 28 days to appeal an audit before it is published on the website.

Audits are carried out according to the potential risk to public health, or, in slaughterhouses, to animal health and welfare. This can vary from at least once every two months to three, five or eight months.

The FSA said it was currently reviewing audit arrangements with the aim of making them easier to understand, both for the FBOs and for people not involved in the meat industry. Once this review is complete, the FSA will publish audits for all approved meat plants across the UK, including Northern Ireland.

FSA approval is required before a meat plant, including slaughterhouses, cutting plants and game handling establishments, can operate. There are 1,200 FSA-approved meat plants in Great Britain, and 60 in Northern Ireland.

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