FSA News Item, 19 September 2008
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has written to the operators of all approved meat businesses to inform them of increases to some meat hygiene charge rates that will come into effect from January 2009 under current charging regulations.
The increases are to ensure that the UK continues to comply with EU legislation that sets minimum rates of charge across all Member States. The increases are needed because of a fall since last year in the value of pound sterling against the Euro.
Generally, Member States must charge at least the minimum rates of meat hygiene charges that are specified in EU legislation. This sets the rates in Euros per animal slaughtered or tonne of meat cut up and every September the Euro rates are converted to sterling equivalence for UK purposes. Due to the significant reduction in the value of the pound against the Euro over the past 12 months the sterling minimum must be increased for a number of categories, otherwise the UK rates would fall below the legislative minimum.
The likely need to increase some UK rates from January was highlighted in the FSA's published proposals on charging before its Board meeting in July, but the detailed breakdown of the charges could not be given until the applicable exchange rate was published by the European Commission at the beginning of September.
The FSA is preparing to consult some time later this year on wider changes to meat hygiene charges. As part of this consultation, the FSA will seek comments from the industry on how the charging proposals for 2009/10 might take account of the unavoidable increases we are announcing today.
Tim Smith, FSA Chief Executive, said: 'This is an established system of ensuring that charging across Europe does not fall below the required minimum rates. The weakness of sterling means that these increases to charges are on this occasion higher than in previous years. This is why we are actively seeking industry's views on how we might modify our charging proposals for 2009/10 to take account of these increases. The FSA remains committed to modernising the Meat Hygiene Service and working with industry to deliver an efficient and fair system of regulation.'