A leaked email has revealed plans to develop a red meat inspection qualification for processing plant staff, suggesting that big changes could be on the horizon for meat inspection.
In the email, seen by MTJ, an Improve employee said that the skills council is currently developing a red meat inspection qualification for processing staff, similar to the recently launched poultry inspection qualification which allows staff to train as recognised Plant Inspection Assistants (PIAs).
The email, which was a response to a query from someone posing as an interested plant operator, said that Improve is "working closely with employers, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Meat Hygiene Service to develop the qualification", the details of which will be available in the summer.
It is not clear exactly how the qualification will fit in with current inspection protocol, but if it is similar to the recently launched poultry qualification, which enables plant staff to carry out poultry post-mortem checks and apply food safety management, it could be an important step for the industry and help significantly reduce inspection costs.
The email said that "the implementation arrangements and the fit with appropriate regulations is the responsibility of the FSA", adding that the Agency is due to make announcements about the qualification later in the year.
No-one from the FSA was available to comment.