Mr Johnston McNeill, Chief Executive of the Meat Hygiene Service said "The Meat Hygiene Service has been in existence for just over a year. The Annual Report and Accounts documents the tremendous progress made by the Agency during this first year of operation. The successes of the first year, and the laying of a sound foundation for the future, are a reflection of the quality of the Agency's staff ".
Exceptionally, the Annual Report also includes a section on BSE which describes the enforcement role of the Agency. The State Veterinary Service (SVS) carries out frequent, unannounced visits to all beef plants to monitor the work of the MHS in ensuring that Specified Bovine Material (SBM) controls are rigorously enforced. This section documents the failures, many of which are of a relatively minor nature, identified by the State Veterinary Service in the enforcement of SBM controls since September 1995. In view of its front-line position in enforcing BSE controls in licensed premises, the MHS wishes to keep all its customers informed of the actions it has taken to ensure rigorous enforcement of the controls in beef slaughterhouses.
The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), was launched on 1 April 1995. It took over from some 300 local authorities responsibility for enforcing meat hygiene, inspection and animal welfare at slaughter legislation in 1,875 licensed fresh meat premises in England, Scotland and Wales. Public health and animal welfare are safeguarded in plants by Official Veterinary Surgeons and Meat Inspectors working as inspection teams. The MHS headquarters is based in York and there are six Regional Offices located at Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Taunton, Wolverhampton and York.
The MHS is also responsible for enforcing BSE controls, notably the enhanced specified bovine material (SBM) controls in licensed beef plants, and supervision of the Over Thirty Month and Calf Processing schemes.
The State Veterinary Service (SVS) carries out frequent, unannounced visits to all beef plants to monitor the work of the MHS in ensuring that SBM controls are rigorously enforced. These audits have identified a number of failures. Many are of a relatively minor nature and relate to problems with staining or with record keeping. As such they would not present a direct risk to public or animal health. There has been a dramatic and sustained reduction in the number of unsatisfactory SVS visits to inspect SBM controls in beef plants since September 1995.
Copies of the MHS's Annual Report and Accounts 1995/96 may be purchased from branches of HMSO.