Food Law News - UK - 2011

FSA News Item, 7 September 2011

MEAT HYGIENE - Board decision on publication of meat audit reports

The Food Standards Agency Board today agreed to routinely publish the audit reports of meat plants, as part of the Agency’s commitment to openness.

All slaughterhouses, game handling establishments and meat cutting plants are audited regularly by FSA staff to ensure that the businesses are following food hygiene regulations and animal welfare standards.

A paper presented to the Board asked it to agree to an interim arrangement, whereby abbreviated audit reports would be published showing just the factual information about meat plants and the audit score they had achieved. At this stage, the narrative section of the report, which is less readily understandable to those outside of the meat industry, would not be published. However, a general explanation of the published information and of technical terms would be included.

By April 2012, a new system of recording audit reports would be put in place, which would make the entire report much more accessible to all audiences. This new format would then be published in full, except in circumstances where publication of a report could make the Agency’s enforcement work less effective.

The Board agreed that the interim publication arrangement will begin from 1 November 2011.

FSA Chair Jeff Rooker said: ‘The Board has always supported the idea of routinely publishing meat plant audits, in line with the principle of always favouring publication. It is right that we begin this process at the earliest opportunity, as the meat industry need to know that this is our intention. For those plants that are on our “cause for concern” list, we hope this will provide a strong incentive to improve.’

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