Abattoir bosses concerned over meat charging proposals

Food Standards Agency (FSA) proposals to charge abattoirs the full cost of meat hygiene inspections will kill off small and medium sized abattoirs, according to the Association for Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS).

Small and medium-sized abattoirs will have their future put in jeopardy by the FSA's plans, claimed AIMS policy director Norman Bagley.

He said: “It appears from its consultation document on charging for meat inspection that the Food Standards Agency has taken upon itself the task of restructuring the UK meat industry.

“These proposals mean that only large slaughterhouses where meat inspection costs benefit from some economy of scale are to be allowed to survive. The rest are to be priced out of the market.

“If it gets its way the FSA will deprive the consumers it is supposed to put first of the opportunity to buy locally sourced meat – the only outlets will be the supermarkets supplying a bulk standard product that has been either imported or produced by a few foreign-owned meat conglomerates.

“The bizarre aspect of the tale is that the FSA itself agrees that the meat inspection required by the EU cannot detect unsafe meat – it is merely a quality control that businesses should be carrying out themselves.

“However, perversely, while the FSA makes noises about getting the law changed, it has decided, in these straitened times to milk the industry dry, to fund not only its meat inspection service, but also much of its own back-office bureaucracy.

“It is now quite clear why the FSA has been dismissive of industry calls to outsource meat inspection that would ready it for the future transfer of responsibility to industry that is supposedly FSA policy – it sees being the monopoly supplier of meat inspection as a nice little – or very big – earner.”

Bagley added that a lot of the delivery of meat inspection is already outsourced to the private sector, but claimed that the procurement procedures actively discourage both efficiency and quality.

“Then, when the FSA charges the industry for the vets and meat inspectors provided, it adds a thumping 50% overhead to fund its army of civil servants and their offices – the vets’ and meat inspectors’ offices are of course provided free of charge by the industry.”

>>Farmers fear £21m bill for meat inspection

>>Food Standards Agency launches meat inspection consultation


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