Gov urged to implement task force meat inspection advice

Meat bosses have welcomed proposals to move towards more proportional and risk-based meat hygiene controls, following the publication of the Macdonald Task Force Report.

The report, by former National Farmers Union chief executive Richard Macdonald, looked at cutting red tape within farming and food production. It makes more than 200 recommendations to reduce the bureaucratic burden on industry, some of which focus on meat inspection.

A key recommendation was that consistently competent meat processors should be able to source meat inspection services from accredited private-sector providers within a system managed by the competent authority.

Meanwhile, the report said government should work towards moving to a risk-based system in the longer term by taking the lead in piloting innovative inspection processes and making recommendations to the European Commission.

It added: “In the short term, changes that do not require changes to EU rules should be introduced, including the greater use of ‘cold inspection’ in small processors with appropriate facilities. The government should make maximum use of derogations in EU law controlling TSEs and support proportionate, risk-based changes, including the TSE roadmap, to these rules and implement changes without delay once they are agreed.”

Stephen Rossides, director of the BMPA, described the report as a “breath of fresh air” and said it was in line with their own recommendations on meat inspection.

“The report’s specific recommendations on meat hygiene issues echo the BMPA’s own thinking. We welcome the report’s recommendation that the government support moves to more proportionate and risk-based meat hygiene controls and inspection that take account of earned recognition.

“The recommendation that consistently compliant FBOs should be able to use accredited private sector bodies to provide meat inspection services is, again, completely in line with the BMPA’s views.

“I sincerely hope that the government accepts the Task Force’s recommendations in this ground-breaking report, and that this will open up a real discussion between the industry and the FSA on new ways to deliver more efficient and value-for-money meat inspection, together with high food safety standards.”

Norman Bagley, policy director with the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, said: “We absolutely welcome the recommendation to start the process of outsourcing. This is in line with government policy elsewhere and meat hygiene should not be a special case.”