New rules impose structure

Traditionally, the British game market could have been viewed as somewhat lacking in structure and organisation, but with the introduction of the new EU food hygiene rules, the industry now has the basis for working as a far more professional operati


The new regulations that came into force on 1 January this year made a number of significant changes, of which everyone in the industry should be aware. In a summary from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), it states the rules introduced requirements for hunter training and extended veterinary control to domestic game processors, but provided exemptions for hunters to supply small quantities of game to the final consumer and local retailers. With the help of industry stakeholders, the FSA has produced and recently updated a Wild Game Guide, which it describes as "essential reading" for all those who shoot, store, transport and process wild game.

Those who shoot have four outlets for their game: either they can take it home for their own consumption; sell small quantities to final consumers; sell to local butchers/retailers for direct supply to final consumers; and, as long as the game has been examined by a trained person, supply it to game-handling establishments for processing.

Some game-handling establishments are already under veterinary control, producing game meat for export, and others are supplying the domestic market under local authority control. Under the new rules, all game handling establishments must meet the same structure and hygiene standards and be under veterinary control. The change in responsibility will take place as the FSA approves each premise.

Since 1 January this year, all premises have had to comply with the structure and hygiene requirements of the new regulations, including having HACCP- based procedures in place, only accepting game examined by trained persons and, in the case of deer, accompanied by a trained person's declaration.

Peter Hewson, FSA deputy veterinary director, said: "Not all game is supplied by estates directly to game handling establishments and there is nothing in the new regulations to stop such arrangements. However, estates can only supply game if they know where it is going and are satisfied it will be taken there without delay, and under hygienic conditions in, where appropriate, chilled vehicles."