Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA News Item, 31 March 2008

MEAT HYGIENE - Increase to MHS charges implemented today

Increased charges for official checks in meat businesses come into force today, announce the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The charges are for meat hygiene and animal welfare checks at slaughter that are carried out by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) in Britain . The increases follow a full consultation and raise the MHS hourly charge and most throughput rates for slaughterhouses and meat cutting plants by 8%. This means a maximum additional charge to a slaughterhouse of £5.62 per 100 cows, £2.83 per 100 pigs, £1.98 per 100 sheep and £16.96 per 100 tonnes of meat.

The FSA currently funds approximately 60% of the costs of official hygiene checks in meat premises. In fact over £30 million a year of public money has been spent on this subsidy and a total of £190 million since 2001. The new charge rates will increase charges to businesses by approximately £1.5 million in 2008/09.

The increases are the first step of a planned move towards full cost recovery, which will be phased over several years to enable meat businesses to adjust and to coincide with planned reductions in MHS costs. The aim of this is to ensure that charge increases are the smallest possible. The FSA will continue to listen to the operators of meat businesses and to farmers to make sure that any further charges that will be introduced in the future are also fair and reasonable and will continue to support those businesses that need extra help.

The FSA is currently in the process of developing future charging proposals with the help and advice of industry bodies and other Government departments. Once this work is finished the proposals will be issued for full public consultation.

The FSA will continue to work with the meat industry to ensure the production of safe meat for the consumer.

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