Risk-based meat hygiene controls five years away

More risk-based proportionate controls for meat are at least five years away, admit Food Standards Agency (FSA) scientists.

The FSA will launch research projects later this year, working towards developing a risk-based regulatory regime for food which aims to protect public health and generate confidence in food.

At its recent board meeting, the FSA endorsed the programme and confirmed it as a priority in its strategic plan for 2010–2015.


FSA veterinary director Liz Redmond said: “We need to demonstrate benefits in public health and animal welfare...working with partners in other member states to exchange ideas. To achieve our long-term objectives will take not less than five years.”


Chief executive Tim Smith said in terms of food safety, meat should be considered as a component rather than in isolation. “Some food businesses handling food are inherently more risky than some of the things that go on in slaughterhouses. If you visit a factory producing chicken sandwiches you will not find a level of inspection or veterinary presence and controls that are mandatory for production of safe meat in the UK and EU,” said Smith.


The current official controls applied to meat production are covered by EU law and pre-date the more modern approach to the control of food production hazards; they were designed to tackle the limited number of diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans (zoonoses) and those which were historically major public health risks from meat, such as parasites.


However, before it can change any controls, the FSA needs to build a case to support the need for EU legislative change by running pilot projects.


Board member, professor Maureen Edmondson added: “Doing risk-based enforcement will really scratch where it itches and relase resources so we can go after the bad guys and shut them down. It should reduce bureaucracy and costs.”