Food Law News - UK - 1998

2 December 1998: HYGIENE - Consultation Document on Meat Hygiene Controls

JFFSG Letter and MAFF News Release (476/98), 2 December 1998

Consultation Document on Meat Hygiene Controls

The Ministry is seeking comments on a consultation relating to proposed amendments to meat hygiene legislation which would provide (1) enhanced enforcement powers, and (2) amended controls on meat from disease restricted areas.

The following Regulations would be amended:

The Introduction to the Consultation Document states the following:
‘The Agriculture Departments are consulting on proposed changes to the GB meat hygiene legislation to make it more effective, more specific and less bureaucratic. It is the Government’s declared intention to drive up hygiene standards wherever possible. This paper, in addressing the licensing/approval of meat premises and the powers available to the enforcement authorities seeks to carry out this intention. It also covers aspects of the control of meat form disease restricted areas. These additional powers and controls are needed now to deal with operators who disregard existing hygiene legislation and to reassure our Community partners that effective animal disease controls are in place.’

Comments are requested by 10 February 1999.

More details are given in the News Release as follows:

Changes to strengthen the enforcement of meat hygiene rules are proposed in a consultation document published today. A system of meat hygiene regulations, supervision and enforcement is in place to ensure that adequate standards are being maintained by food producers to protect the consumer.

Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker said:
"Protecting the consumer is our number one priority. This Government is committed to ensure that standards of meat hygiene are raised and the industry can work with us in achieving this. We are committed to ensuring British meat products are of the best quality and the Government will continue to work with the industry to improve the hygiene standards in meat premises and to increase consumer confidence in British meat."

Following a MAFF study of enforcement powers it is proposed that additional measures would help the enforcement authorities to ensure operators take prompt corrective action if hygiene standards need to be improved.

The proposed enforcement powers would apply at all licensed and approved meat premises and include:

Other proposals are changes to licensing or approval procedures, to the legislation regarding offences and penalties and a requirement for plant operators and key management staff to notify the enforcement authority of their identity in order to facilitate any necessary enforcement action.

It is also proposed to introduce extra controls over the passage of meat from animal disease restricted areas. These additional requirements would include the certification and marking of meat from areas where animal movements are restricted because of an animal disease outbreak. This would reinforce existing controls.

The following additonal notes are provided:

EU Directives 72/461, 77/99, 80/215, 91/494 and 94/65 contain a number of provisions for the control of meat and its products from animal disease restricted areas. These are intended to reinforce animal health controls (where there is a risk to animal health, not public health), under which areas or regions, in which there has been an outbreak of a noticeable disease, can be declared as 'restricted', thereby limiting movements of animals which could spread the disease.

The above controls are obligations which apply to all EC member states and are important for safeguarding the integrity of British meat and to provide appropriate assurances for our trading partners. The diseases to which these controls apply include foot and mouth disease, swine fever, swine vesicular disease or contagious swine paralysis (teschen disease), in the case of red meat animals, and Newcastle disease and avian influenza, in the case of poultry.

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