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Industry-wide Review Launched into Meat Processing Plants Across the UK

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Industry-wide Review Launched into Meat Processing Plants Across the UK

Industry-wide Review Launched into Meat Processing Plants Across the UK
March 06
09:56 2018

The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland have published details of a major review into the sites where meat products are processed and stored in the UK. The two organisations have launched a comprehensive review of hygiene controls with the review including unannounced inspections and audit regimes.

The Food Standards Agency has announced that it will work with industry to implement CCTV across cutting plants, and increased intelligence gathering through audit data sharing pilots across industry in order to improve insight into circumstances and factors leading to non-compliances and the ability to anticipate them.

The FSA has also published its update to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry into standards in poultry processing and the findings of the FSA’s investigation into 2 Sisters Food Group.

Jason Feeney and Geoff Ogle, Chief Executives of the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland respectively, jointly stated: “We are concerned about recent instances of companies breaching hygiene rules. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules, rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food – and food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations. Our review will be far reaching and thorough and we will announce our initial findings in June. We are pleased that the meat industry representatives who we met with have pledged their full and effective engagement with the review.”

The newly launched review will aim to:

* Increase public and stakeholder confidence in the meat industry and its regulation;

* Improve the ability to identify non-compliance and take prompt action to minimise the risk to public health and food safety;

* Assess how the industry currently operates across the whole supply chain;

* Increase awareness of circumstances and factors which can lead to non-compliance.

The scope of the review will incorporate:

All types of cutting plants (red meat, white meat and game);

* How the current legislation works and the guidance supporting it;

* How the ‘official controls’ are carried out which must be followed to ensure compliance with hygiene legislative requirements (this includes audits, inspections, sampling and surveillance);

* The roles and responsibilities of food businesses, regulators and assurance bodies;

* How incidents are managed and responded to.

In response to the recommendations made by the Parliamentary inquiry into poultry cutting plants, the FSA has announced that it will work with industry on a voluntary protocol for adoption of CCTV in meat processing plants and will consult on legislating to implement them if necessary. FSA will also be running pilots to improve data and intelligence sharing across the industry and is pursuing increased investigatory powers for the National Food Crime Unit.

According to the FSA, its investigation into allegations of food hygiene and standards breaches at 2 Sisters has been extensive and thorough and looked across the company’s poultry sites. 500 hours of CCTV from the site were examined along with audit information from major retailers. The company voluntarily ceased production at one site whilst changes were made and staff re-trained. The FSA has had a permanent presence at the company’s cutting plants for the last four months.

Jason Feeney, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “Our investigation found some areas for improvement but the issues were resolved promptly by the company, who co-operated fully, and at no point did we find it necessary to take formal enforcement action. The business has made a wide range of improvements across all their sites to improve processes. They are already publishing the outcomes of all their audits and are in the process of installing high quality CCTV across their estate that we will have full access to. These are measures we would like the whole industry to adopt.”

Food Standards Agency (FSA) approves sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) approves sites in Scotland. Plans to work with industry to implement CCTV are being led by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and do not apply to Scotland.

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