The new Level 2 Award for Proficiency in Poultry Meat Inspection has been developed by food sector skills council Improve in association with the Meat Hygiene Service, Food Standards Agency and the British Poultry Council.
The award has been developed in response to the identified skills needs of employers in poultry processing. It is designed to provide training and assess the competence of Plant Inspection Assistants (PIAs) in carrying out poultry post-mortem checks and applying food safety management procedures.
Derek Williams, development director at Improve, said: "The main benefit of the new qualification is that training and assessment can be provided on and close-to the job.
"The standard of skills and knowledge needed to achieve the qualification is rigorous, as the focus of the award is on proving the overall competence of PIAs to perform consistently in carrying out practical, post-mortem inspection work,."
The qualification is structured into three core units - practical skills, the background knowledge that underpins these skills, and understanding of food safety procedures. The food safety unit is common to all who undertake the qualification, while the skills and underpinning knowledge units are tailored for specific types of bird. PIAs can therefore undertake a relevant Award depending on whether they work with broilers and hens, turkeys, ducks and geese, or non-hunted game birds.
The chairman of the British Poultry Council, Ted Wright, commented: "Our aim was to provide our Member Companies with the choice of cost effective inspection systems that is right for their business. The collaboration on this fit-for-purpose PIA qualification provides an excellent opportunity for poultry processors to manage their own inspection needs and to have control of their costs going forwards."
Jane Downes, MHS veterinary and technical director, said: "The MHS welcomes the new qualification as it will enable the white meat industry and the MHS to work in closer partnership to deliver official inspection of poultry meat."
The Poultry Inspection Award is available through a number of Awarding Organisations, including the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), and Food and Drink Qualifications (FDQ).
The qualification is one of a number of new proficiency and competency awards that have been developed by Improve as part of a major reform in the qualifications system used in the food and drink sector.
The awards are accredited within a new qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and are based on a flexible system of learning credits, which recognise a specific competence or skill. Employers will be able to pick and choose a range of units to build tailored qualifications that will provide training and recognition of proficiency for specific job roles.