Food Law News - UK - 2001

FSA Press Release (2001/0161), 22 November 2001

MEAT HYGIENE - More Controls on Poultry Meat Production

Further tightening of the laws regulating the production of poultry meat will give consumers extra protection, Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency announced today. These changes to the Poultry Meat Hygiene Regulations are in addition to the recent action plan agreed by the Agency to prevent unfit poultry entering the human food chain.

The changes to the poultry meat hygiene regulations will bring about a number of benefits to consumers of poultry meat, these include:

Welcoming the changes to the law David Statham, Director of Enforcement and Food Standards at the Agency said:
" The production of meat has some of the strictest controls in the food chain. The Agency is already taking forward an agreed action plan to tackle scams putting unfit meat back into the human food chain. This further tightening of the law is in addition to these measures and will bring about real benefits, particularly in traceability of the meat. Importantly the changes also address the concerns of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food about the risk of food poisoning by banning production of New York Dressed poultry in 'off-farm' slaughterhouses."

The risks associated with uneviscerated, or New York Dressed, poultry arise primarily in off-farm slaughterhouses, normally located in urban areas, where NYD has been the preferred choice for the Muslim and some ethnic communities. Uneviscerated poultry can pose a risk to human health by contaminating the meat or other food stuffs through leakage of the intestines during transportation or through inexperience in evisceration. This is one factor contributing to the risk of salmonella or campylobacter food poisoning, particularly if the other foodstuff is not cooked afterwards.

The changes to the Regulations improve traceability by making it a requirement for all consignments of poultry from full and low throughput premises to be accompanied by an invoice or delivery note. This withdraws a previous exemption where the poultry meat is transported direct to a final consumer such as a retail butcher or restaurant.

Under the Poultry Meat Hygiene Regulations (PMHR) there is a general exemption to all producers, both on-farm and off-farm slaughtering less than 10,000 birds or rabbits a year. The changes to the Regulations will remove the exemption for off-farm slaughterhouses will bring it into line with other licensed premises and ensures supervision and inspection of the meat by the Meat Hygiene Service.

The following additional notes are provided:

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