Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - UK - 2014

FSA Consultation, 21 February 2014

MEAT HYGIENE - Review of audit arrangements in FSA approved meat establishments within the UK

A copy of the consultation document is available on this site. See: Review of audit arrangements in FSA approved meat establishments within the UK

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholders' views on the key elements of the draft audit proposal and evidence towards our initial impact assessment of the proposals on UK stakeholders.  Responses are requested by: 16 May 2014


Who will this consultation be of most interest to?

Enforcement bodies carrying out official controls (competent authorities) on behalf of the FSA and Food Business Operators (FBOs) in FSA approved meat establishments.

What is the subject of this consultation?

Key changes are being considered for official control audits in FSA approved meat establishments – i.e. Slaughterhouses, Cutting plants (Co located and Stand Alone) and Game Handling Establishments subject to veterinary controls across the UK. The proposals include changes to audit risk ratings, use of evidence, audit outcomes, audit frequencies. An initial impact assessment on the proposed changes is included in the consultation.

What is the purpose of this consultation?

To seek stakeholders' views on the key elements of the draft audit proposal and evidence towards our initial impact assessment (Annex B) of the proposals on UK stakeholders.

The audit process is due fundamental review as it has been in place since 2006 and the proposals are intended to make the current official control audit system in the UK more proportionate to the risks posed by meat production, by taking into account additional controls and assurances within the meat supply chain. The proposals are in line with from the FSA's strategic outcome that enforcement is effective, consistent, risk-based, proportionate and focused on improving public health and engagement with industry representatives and FSA has developed the proposals in line with the following objectives:

Following implementation of the new audit system in July 2014, pending consultation results, It is expected that all meat establishments will have undergone an audit under the new arrangements by February 2015.

Consultation details

The current audit system for FSA approved meat establishments was introduced in January 2006, with the introduction of the EC Food Hygiene legislation. While refinements have been made to the system over the years, we believe that it is now appropriate to undertake a more fundamental review of effectiveness. The FSA Board discussed audit arrangements in September 2013, as part of wider considerations on compliance in the meat industry [FSA 13/09/06], and, acknowledging concerns raised by industry representatives, there was support for early improvements to strengthen audit arrangements.

Flexibilities within the EU legislative framework have been considered to inform proposals, with consideration of official control audit systems in other Member States and third countries, including scoring, frequency of audit, and patterns of visits.

A UK-wide review of audit arrangements has been carried out on basis (following the FSA Board meeting in September 2013) with consideration towards the differences within each of the four countries – including that meat official controls delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland on the FSA’s behalf, and the establishment of the National Food Body in Scotland, in April 2015 - potentially influencing how changes might be implemented in these countries.

There are 1,401 approved meat establishments in GB and 59 in Northern Ireland outlined as follows:

Northern Ireland
Game Handling Establishments
Cutting Plants (and market stalls)
741 (55 Market Stalls)

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) system of audit in approved meat plants (slaughterhouses, cutting plants and game handling establishments) has been in place since 2006. Some refinements have been made since then - most recently in October 2012 where a greater emphasis was placed on food safety in terms of scores awarded, and audits for slaughterhouses with co-located cutting plants were combined – but audit arrangements have largely stayed the same.

A strategic review of audit arrangements has been under way, with the FSA working in collaboration with meat industry stakeholders to come up with proposals for change and consultation in relation to the following key underpinning audit requirements:

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