Increasing hygiene standards in fresh meat production is a key target for the Agency for 1998/99. The Agency has been tasked to raise Hygiene Assessment System (HAS) scores so that at least:
MHS Chief Executive Johnston McNeill said:
"Tremendous effort and activity has been devoted by the MHS to the rigorous enforcement of meat hygiene, BSE and animal welfare legislation. BSE controls have been comprehensively and rigorously enforced. Significant improvement in hygiene standards have also been achieved. However, the MHS is not complacent. The Agency is launching a drive to raise standards further to the highest level. We are fully committed to the priority of protecting public health and ensuring food safety for consumers. The MHS and the meat industry must continue to work hard together to fulfil this commitment. The MHS is continuing to invest significantly in the training and development of its operational staff to ensure the rigorous enforcement of legislative requirements and the promotion of 'best practices'. In particular all staff will receive training in the implementation of HACCP in 1998/99."
In June 1998 the MHS achieved registration by the British Standards Institute to the BS EN ISO 9002 quality management system standard. The award demonstrates its commitment to quality service.
The MHS was established as an Executive Agency on 1 April 1995. Its main functions are: enforcement of hygiene rules in licensed fresh meat premises; meat inspection and health marking in licensed fresh meat premises; enforcement of hygiene controls in certain minced meat and meat products plants; enforcement of Specified Risk Material and other animal by-products, and to provide export certification when required by the importing country or by Community rules.
MHS Official Veterinary Surgeons and Meat Hygiene Inspectors work together as meat hygiene and inspection teams in licensed premises. These teams are responsible for ensuring that meat produced for sale for human consumption is processed in the most hygienic of conditions and with due regard for animal welfare legislation.
The Hygiene Assessment System (HAS) is an objective risk-based method of assessing hygiene standards in licensed slaughterhouses and cutting plants. It is designed to assess hygiene hazards arising from slaughtered livestock, the people working in the plant, the premises themselves and any relevant source.