Food Law News - UK - 2000

24 January 2000: MEAT HYGIENE - Consultation on an Amendment to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, as Amended, Concerning the Manufacture of Meat Based Prepared Meals


JFSSG Letter, 24 January 2000

Consultation on an Amendment to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, as Amended, Concerning the Manufacture of Meat Based Prepared Meals

The letter seeks views on proposals to amend the requirements for the manufacture of meat based prepared meals, as given in Schedule 2, Part IX, paragraph 2a of the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, as amended. (A meat based prepared meal is a wrapped meat product (excluding sandwiches or products made with pastry, pasta or dough) in which meat has been mixed with other foodstuffs before, during or after cooking and requires refrigeration for preservation. Examples will include roast meat dishes with vegetables; and traditional cottage pies (minced meat with potato).) This consultation is in accordance with the requirements of Section 48(4) of the Food Safety Act 1990.

Council Directive 95/68/EC amends Council Directive 77/99/EEC, which is the main Directive on the hygienic production of meat products. Council Directive 77/99/EEC is implemented in Great Britain by the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, made under the Food Safety Act 1990. Directive 95/68/EC introduced several changes to Directive 77/99/EEC. These changes were implemented in Great Britain by the Meat Products (Hygiene) (Amendment) Regulations 1999.

Article 1.15 of Directive 95/68/EC requires that where the meat product contained in the prepared meal is mixed with the other ingredients prior to chilling, the time during which the temperature of the meat products is between 10C and 60C shall be kept to a maximum of two hours. The Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994 (paragraph 2(a)(i) of Part IX of Schedule 2) do not currently specify a two hour cooling period; they specify only that the time during which the temperature of the meat product is between 10C and 63C shall be kept to a minimum. It was envisaged that this change might cause industry some difficulty. To try to alleviate these difficulties as much as possible, implementation of this requirement was deferred until 31 March 2000.

Directive 95/68/EC also provides a flexibility allowing Member States to use other preparation methods for the manufacture of meat based prepared meals providing, that is, that these other methods of preparation are approved by the competent authority. To try to maintain the status quo as much as possible the JFSSG propose to restate, as an alternative method of preparation, the current wording of the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, in this respect.

It is therefore proposed to add a new sub-paragraph (iii) to paragraph 2 of Part IX of Schedule 2 of the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994. This will say that the meat product to be contained in the prepared meal must, as soon as it has been cooked: "be cooled and mixed with the other ingredients in such a way (to be specified in the approval document for the establishment concerned) that the time during which the temperature of the meat product is between 10C and 60C is kept to a minimum". There will, therefore, be three alternative methods of preparation of a meat based prepared meal.

Guidance to local enforcement authorities has also been drafted and this, together with the draft amendment to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994, has been circulated for comment. Comments on the draft amendment to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994 and the draft guidance to enforcement authorities are required by Monday 21 February 2000.

The proposed amendment to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994 will apply to England only. Separate legislation would be required in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and it is anticipated that the relevant authorities will be consulting on this issue shortly.


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