Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA News Item (R1381), 17 July 2008

MEAT HYGIENE - Board agrees to Meat Hygiene Service charging proposals

The Food Standards Agency Board today agreed to recommend new proposals, to reform the charging regime for the regulation of the UK meat industry. At its meeting in Cardiff, the Board also reaffirmed its support for small rural abattoirs as the new charging policy develops.

The Board considered a series of changes to the charging system operated by the Meat Hygiene Service an executive agency of the FSA. It agreed to recommend to Ministers that the Agency should consult on the following proposals:

Subject to the views of Ministers, there will now be a full public consultation beginning in September.

FSA Chief Executive Tim Smith said: 'The Board has made an important decision today. I am pleased that this decision has been reached, as I believe it will go a long way to preserving an industry about which the country is rightly proud. British meat stands for quality and it's important that we take this opportunity to make improvements to the inspection regime, and maintain standards of public health and animal welfare in the business for many years to come.

'We've thought long and hard about the proposed increase in charging. I think everyone is agreed that the level of subsidy from Government to the industry has been too high in recent years and the changes we are proposing should ensure that the system will become fairer for both the industry and the taxpayer. The MHS is making huge strides on its own cost reduction plan. Its five regional offices are in the process of being closed and the gross cost of operations will have fallen by £14.4m by 2009/10.

'I am committed to making sure that there is continuing support for the smallest operators. The FSA will continue to play its part in giving confidence and protection to all parts of the industry to help it to deliver to the consumer the safest and best product possible.'

While the proposed increases will reduce the subsidy to the industry in Great Britain from £28m to £25m, the MHS's overall plan is to reduce operating costs of £91m to £74m by 2012/13.

Time-based charging will enable the MHS and the respective food business operator to establish a working relationship that will have a much greater commercial discipline and will encourage the use of MHS resources in a much more effective way.

The FSA is also working with EU partners to try to develop a more risk-based approach to the regulation of the meat industry and to lessen the regulatory burden on the industry as a whole. This is an important element to the FSA's policy, and the regulator's relationship with the industry will play a crucial part in making the case to the EC.

The following additional information is provided:

Additional revenue derived from increased charging proposals (GB only):

Country Red meat slaughterhouse White meat slaughterhouse Cutting and game plants Total SRM charges
England ( £k)
Scotland £k
Wales £k


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