FSA has been working overtime on this issue


John Chadwick's letter in the January 27 issue of MTJ suggests that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) could be doing more to ensure small slaughterhouses continue to operate. I disagree and would like to take this opportunity to put the record straight. The FSA is committed to supporting the meat industry and is working closely with its representatives to help ensure smooth implementation of the new regulations.

These regulations, which officials from the FSA were involved in negotiating and which have applied since January this year, are much less prescriptive than the rules they replaced. Mr Chadwick suggests that a case could have been put to Brussels last year which would have resulted in even less regulation on small slaughterhouses.

This is simply not true.

Member states and the EU Commission have been putting in a great deal of work to develop guidance on how slaughterhouses can comply with the new rules and the requirements for HACCP-based procedures. The guidance, agreed at European level, has only just been published on the Commission's website.

Study of this plainly written guidance will confirm that member states need not make a special case for many of the measures Mr Chadwick is seeking. They are already available under the new rules for slaughterhouses throughout the Community. This includes the possibility for slaughterhouses to apply generic HACCP plans with exception recording. In addition, the Agency is developing national guidance with the industry and has distributed copies of a Food Safety Management diary to operators as a suggested method of keeping key records on an exception basis.

There are a number of issues where the FSA believes controls on small abattoirs may still not be entirely based on risk. It is actively considering these issues and is likely to be consulting all stakeholders, including consumers, in the near future, on whether to seek agreement in Brussels to some appropriate national rules.

The FSA is always happy to engage in debate and work with the meat industry in relation to these important issues. Should the industry feel another meeting would be beneficial at this time, we would very much like to be involved.

Peter Hewson

Deputy Veterinary Director, Food Standards Agency.

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