REPORTS THAT some abattoirs are planning to stop using the Meat and Livestock Commission carcass classification service have worried the National Pig Association.

The MLC provides an independent classification and weighing service which is used by 64% of the 21 medium and large scale abattoirs in the country.

But Grampian recently announced they would not use the service at their Malton abattoir from May, and are considering similar proposals at their Haverhill, Suffolk plant.

MLC classification charges are passed on to producers and vary widely from 20-70p per pig. 

Some abattoirs recoup the basic cost of the service while others also charge a margin over and above this.

John Heal, head of the MLC‘s authentication service, has warned that abattoirs ditching the MLC are likely to carry on charging for a carcass classification service that will no longer be independent.

Mike Sloyan of the British Pig Executive said that producers have to choose if they wish to maintain an independent presence in abattoirs.

Non-MLC slaughterhouses will have their classification standards checked by the Rural Payments Agency on a three month basis. 

The NPA are concerned that dressing specification compliance is a daily issue which requires constant monitoring by an independent body such as the MLC authentication service.

But unless producers lobby for the MLC to continue its involvement in carcass classification, the service may be lost as major players switch in the years ahead.