Slaughtering of over 30-month old cattle has restarted at West Devon Meats, Hatherleigh, six weeks after DEFRA suspended the abattoir’s license for irregularities in brain stem labelling.

The lifting of the suspension, on Monday, came as a great relief to farmers who had been faced with poor OTM prices and long journeys to the next nearest OTM abattoir.

“It is good news for farmers and it’s good news for us,” said manager Peter Bowyer. “We are now going ahead at full production and will be up to our 1000 head capacity next week. There is a backlog of animals to work through but we will get there.”

Junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said the decision to lift the suspension had been taken in record time, without compromising the safety of the human food chain.

“DEFRA has worked very hard with the Meat Hygiene Service and West Devon Meats to ensure that commercial activity at the plant could resume as quickly as possible.”

The staff have been retrained and new measures installed to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem. However, a separate Food Standards Agency investigation into allegations of malpractice continues.