Slaughter legislation approaches start date

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned slaughterhouse operators and livestock keepers that they will soon have to ensure that Food Chain Information (FCI) is provided for all cattle, sheep and goats sent for slaughter.

The new requirement is part of EU legislation, which comes into force from 1 January 2010 and will apply to all slaughter animals, whether sent directly to a slaughterhouse or sold through a livestock market.

An FSA spokesperson said: “The new rules are an important part of ‘farm-to-fork’ food safety controls and highlight the food safety responsibilities of livestock keepers in the meat production chain. The information about slaughter animals that is passed from the farm to the slaughterhouse can be used by operators and Official Veterinarians to make decisions about processing and inspection procedures.

“Since this is information that livestock keepers should already have, we believe that this change in the law will not be burdensome. Each slaughterhouse operator will decide how they wish to receive FCI. In the case of sheep in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, some operators may elect to use new movement documents that are being produced. There will be no changes made to movement documents in Scotland, where the industry’s preference is to use company declarations.”

FCI is information about the health of the animals being sent for slaughter, as well as other information relevant to the safety of meat derived from them, including medicines the animals have been given. The rules already apply to pigs and calves.

Once the new rules come into force, meat from cattle, sheep or goats without FCI information will not be passed for human consumption. Slaughterhouse operators, markets and livestock keepers are therefore being advised to discuss arrangements for exchange to FCI now, in preparation for 1 January.

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