Scots object to MHS cost proposals

The president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has written to the Scottish government to object to the latest MHS cost proposals.

In a letter to Shona Robinson, Scotland's minister for Public Health, Alan Jess said that the FSA's proposal to increase meat inspection charges by a further 12% was "extremely insensitive" coming on the back of the 8% increase earlier this year.

"It is untimely to even contemplate such proposals while MHS is going through its process of transformation," said Jess, pointing out that some FSA Board members also questioned the timing of the proposals during the Board's latest public meeting. "Their views were subsequently rejected by the Board, who resolved to go for an autumn consultation on next year's 12% increase."

In a letter prompted by the Board meeting, Jess said that the proposed changes - an increase of costs to plant operators by up to 12% and the recovery of Specified Risk Material (SRM) costs - threatened to "undo the sense of partnership" which industry leaders have been seeking to establish with the MHS and FSA.

"These are extremely insensitive steps, particularly in light of the close co-operation which industry has given to the MHS/FSA in recent months in an attempt to achieve the fair and reasonable operation and costing of meat inspection services as part of the development of a transformed MHS," he said.

Jess expressed concern that the Board meeting did not seem to reflect what his organisation had discussed with the FSA in recent months.

He added that meat processors "are being asked to pay an additional 12% for posts that should not even exist", despite MHS optimisation visits to Scottish abattoirs, which had highlighted the need for transformation to be completed before further cost increases.

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