Feasibility study into the use of plant inspection assistants in approved game handling establishments

Last updated:
4 September 2013
The possibility of inspection tasks being carried out by plant inspection assistants (PIAs) in approved game handling establishments (AGHEs) will be assessed for risk to public health, animal health and welfare, compared to traditional inspections. The trained hunter’s (TH) examination and declaration will also be evaluated as a safe tool for meat inspection.
Study duration: April 2012 to September 2013
Project code: FS245025
Contractor: Scottish Food Quality Certification


The current system of EU official controls, in particular meat post-mortem inspection, is based on traditional inspection, developed a hundred years ago, which focussed on visible defects only. Today, the main foodborne pathogens are microbiological and cannot be seen by the naked eye.

This research will explore the introduction of a risk and evidence-based approach to meat hygiene in the wild game industry, similar to the inspection model successfully implemented in the poultry sector.

Content of the trained hunters' declarations (THDs) will be assessed. This will establish the effectiveness of the declaration to support the controls at the AGHE and suggest ways of improving it to allow more efficient controls by the plant inspection assistants.

Research Approach

Plant inspection assistants (PIAs)

A PIA inspection model will be developed by determining which public health risk factors,associated with wild game meat, are currently addressed during inspection. The criteria will be established by conducting a feasibility study in collaboration with meat hygiene control and animal health experts. A feasibility report into the potential transition of wild game meat hygiene controls from the current Official Veterinarian (OV) – Official Auxiliary (OA) regime to a PIA model will be put forward. This will inform the PIA inspection model guidelines. Based on this, experts will define the required competencies for proficient PIAs to operate within AGHEs, creating a detailed set of PIA competence criteria, including job description and role.
The competencies and inspection model criteria will provide the framework for training materials for the PIA training programme. Both material and training programme will be assessed by training and examining PIAs.

Trained hunters (THs)

The effectiveness of the THs knowledge and competence in examining wild game and the use of declarations will be assessed. This will prove how well the current declaration system is working, together with the THs level of decision making and knowledge.

The THs knowledge and competence will be assessed by inviting participants to partake in a short test and questionnaire covering their work and profession. Content and delivery of the THs professional development courses will be reviewed with the game industry.

A comprehensive assessment of the completion and content of THDs will be carried out by surveying AGHEs and seeking their feedback on usage. This will include suggestions for improvements to allow effective controls by PIAs. Feedback from OVs engaged in wild game controls at AGHEs will also be collected. Together these findings will help inform recommendations on THD improvements.
An analysis of the THs’ examination findings against inspection findings will be conducted. The study will compare the results of the TH examinations as indicated by results recorded on declarations, and match these with the carcass inspection findings detailed in records of post-mortem inspections reported by meat inspectors.


Additional Info


Published Papers