Last updated on 6 September 2011
Review of meat controls research published
The Food Standards Agency has today published the final reports from a programme of research into the modernisation of meat controls in the UK.
The Agency is currently reviewing the existing system of meat inspection in slaughterhouses. The overall objective is to improve public health protection while delivering a more risk-based and proportionate system for official meat controls.
As part of this work, five projects were commissioned to study the risks to public heath, animal health and welfare from changing the current meat hygiene inspection requirements.
These projects, which have now been completed and evaluated by independent experts, focused on the following areas:
- post-mortem inspection tasks
- use of inspection data
- analysis of roles (such as official veterinarian presence when plant inspection assistants carry out post-mortem inspection of poultry)
- requirements for outdoor pig processing
- ante-mortem inspection of young/prime animals and poultry
The findings of this research included, for example, the recommendation that trial projects should be carried out to test the outcomes of the qualitative risk assessments.
Also published today are results of consumer research into official controls. During 2010, the Agency organised a series of focus groups with consumers to ask for their views on current and future meat hygiene controls. It was found that:
- consumers expect themselves, retailers and food outlets to monitor safety in the first instance, and have little awareness of the current system of controls
- on being told more about the current system of controls, consumers were reassured by what they learnt
- consumers also welcomed the principle of shifting the responsibility for compliance further onto the industry to improve standards
- there was initial scepticism about potential changes, though there was a range of views on the options tested and some participants were more in favour of reform than others
The Agency will consider this new scientific evidence when developing its future policy on official meat controls.
All of the reports can be found via the links below.