Meat cutting plant and cold store review

What you need to know about the UK review of cutting plants and cold stores being carried out by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland.
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Purpose of the review

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are responsible for providing assurance to consumers that all food businesses in the sector are meeting their legal obligations to produce safe, authentic food that satisfies hygiene and welfare standards.

The review announced on 1 February 2018 aims to improve levels of public confidence in the safety and authenticity of UK meat and identify potential improvements in the way the sector is regulated in the wake of non-compliance issues identified at various cutting plants.

Timelines and progress

The review has been broken up into three phases:

Phase 1: March to June 2018

Focused on understanding the current position, comparison of arrangements in place for the four countries (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England) and highlighting emerging areas for improvement.

Phase 2 - June to October 2018

Will validate findings from Phase 1, explore the implications these have for food businesses and work with the sector to identify and assess options for improvement, develop recommendations, and prepare an implementation delivery plan to be presented to FSA and FSS Boards.

Phase 3 - October 2018 onward:

Following publication of the final report, FSA and FSS will consider their response and progress agreed implementation of review recommendations.

Current status of the review

Phase 1 of the review has now been completed and the findings from this were published in an update paper as part of the FSA’s board meeting in June.

We are now in Phase 2 of the review where we are engaging with key stakeholders to develop recommendations for improvement. As part of this process we have issued evidence gathering surveys to local authorities and food businesses to gain further insight and six workshops are being held across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to jointly develop recommendations for change and consider how to implement them.

Final report publication

The work from the first two phases will inform the final report which will be presented to the FSA and FSS Boards for their consideration in October 2018.

The report will include recommendations for improvements accompanied by a delivery action plan proposing how changes are to be implemented.

Project Board and Challenge Group oversight

To help ensure that the work of the review has the required oversight and support an internal and external group have been set up.

The Project Board is made up of senior FSA and FSS staff and was set up to guide and oversee the work of the review. They have provided guidance and recommendations including:

  • clarifying the scope and governance of the review
  • confirming the review delivery approach and organisation
  • confirming funding and considering risks to effective conduct of the review
  • agreeing stakeholder engagement and communications approach

The Challenge Group was appointed to provide scrutiny to the work of the review and they have now met three times since April, with a further meeting scheduled in August.

The group members each bring a broad range of high level experience across a diverse range of public-sector roles and they have the ability and authority to challenge the activities being carried out whilst also bringing their outside perspectives and experience.

You can find out more about the membership and the work of the group from the announcement on the Challenge Group.

Contacting the review team

If you have any comments or questions about the review and the issues discussed in this update then please email contact us at CPCS.Review@food.gov.uk