How the meat plant audit process works

Information about the audit process for audits completed after August 2014 and for older audits completed before August 2014.

About audits completed in the UK after August 2014

Scoring of audits

Intensity of audits is based on risks that are fully and properly assessed during the audit process. The scoring of audit questions and overall section scores are underpinned by objective requirements.

Score Description
Compliant Compliance with a food safety programme, food regulatory requirements and animal health and welfare regulations (in the case of slaughterhouses) is achieved if the food business is operating in accordance with its food safety management systems, food safety standards and has met the requirements of the regulations.
Minor non-compliance A non-compliance that is not likely to compromise public health (including food safety), animal health and welfare, or lead to the handling of unsafe or unsuitable food. A minor non-compliance is an isolated low risk situation and does not compromise achieving control measures of the food safety program, ie overall the food safety program is still effective in controlling the food safety hazards. When viewed collectively a number of related minor non-compliances may represent a major non-compliance
Major non-compliance A major non-compliance is a non-compliance that is likely to compromise public health (including food safety), animal health and welfare, or may lead to the production and handling of unsafe or unsuitable food if no remedial action is taken. When viewed collectively a number of related major non-compliances may represent critical non-compliance.
Critical non-compliance A critical non-compliance is non-compliance where the contravention poses an imminent and serious risk to public health (including food safety), animal health or welfare.

Audit outcome compliance ratings

The four audit outcome compliance ratings are similar to the grading systems in place under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for food premises.

Compliance rating Description Tolerance for audit outcome
Good No issues of significance for public health, animal health or animal welfare during the entire audit period. No majors or critical on day of audit or during audit period.
Generally Satisfactory No issues of significance for public health, animal health or animal welfare identified on the day of the audit. Any non-compliances identified during the audit period corrected promptly.

No more than 2 majors during audit or during audit period rectified promptly

No critical during audit period.

Improvement necessary Major non-compliances identified at audit and/or non-compliances during the audit period not always responded to and corrected promptly.

3-6 majors during audit or during audit period

No critical during audit period

Urgent Improvement necessary Multiple major non-compliances or critical non-compliance identified during audit visit or interim audit period. Official intervention required to ensure public health safeguards.

1 critical or

>6 majors during audit or during audit period

Parts of the audit

Our audits look at the effectiveness of the food business operator’s food safety management systems. This includes sections considering:

  • effectiveness of systems to minimise potential spread of animal disease (checks on animal health and identification) (slaughterhouses only)
  • animal welfare safeguards (slaughterhouses only) (discussed in more detail below)
  • controls ensuring hygienic production
  • environmental hygiene and good hygienic practices in place
  • effectiveness of food safety systems based on HACCP principles
  • handling of animal by-products/waste to protect human and animal health
  • effectiveness of BSE controls/removal of specified risk material from cattle, sheep and goats

Not all the sections will need to be completed for every establishment; this will depend on the type of establishment and the activities carried out.

Who carries out audits?


Within Britain, the FSA has employed a dedicated team of 19 veterinary auditors and four Audit Veterinary Leaders to carry out audits and inspections of slaughterhouses, game handling establishments and those cutting plants requiring approval. Audit Veterinary Leaders check the quality and consistency of audits before they are issued to the food business operator.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, audit functions are organised differently within the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, but principles are the same, in terms of auditing being separate from routine attendance, and audits being carried out by a pool of specifically trained auditors.

More in this section