22 August 1997

Abattoir tables angers industry

GOVERNMENT could face a legal challenge from the abattoir industry over its plans to publish a league table of the hygiene scores awarded to individual slaughterhouses.

A MAFF spokeswoman said this week that ministers were still determined to press ahead with the scheme, but details of how often the figures would be published had yet to be decided.

While abattoirs representatives accept that scores should be published, they are extremely concerned about how that is done. A spokeswoman for the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers said some members felt very strongly that if slaughterhouse scores were ranked in league tables it could do tremendous damage to their businesses. "And some have said they could be forced to challenge the government in court," she added.

The FFMW is opposed to league tables because, it says, abattoirs could lose points for relatively minor infringements that had nothing to do with food safety but which could then result in the loss of supermarket contracts.

"We fully support the publishing of scores, but it must be done in the right way to ensure that businesses are not damaged," the spokeswoman said, adding that the FFMW was as keen as anyone to see bad plants closed. &#42