MHS under fire from vets

Processors have found themselves an unlikely ally when it comes to the overhaul of meat inspection services.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is critical of the Meat Hygiene Services's (MHS) proposals and has put forward its own alternatives.

One of the BVA's more radical suggestions is for the MHS to concentrate on policy and audit while handing over responsibility for ante mortem and post mortem inspection to an independent agency as in New Zealand. Such an approach it said would have the advantage of transparency.

The BVA is also critical of proposals put forward by MHS. "These do not promote a sustainable meat industry supported by appropriate and flexible delivery of officials controls. Whilst consumer protection is the aim of official controls these controls must be delivered in a cost effective manner," it added.

The BVA also called for clawing back of some MHS powers as it believed the organisation was failing to fulfil its statutory duty because of business management challenges. "Concentration on the business line has resulted in MHS becoming focused on business inputs rather than food safety outcomes. We believe that consideration should be given to the option of delivery of inspection tasks by officially accredited bodies, reinforced by a robust system."

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