11 April 1997

Hygiene rap is right – MHS

THE Meat Hygiene Service has accepted the need to improve hygiene, inspection, record-keeping and other faults in abattoirs following the publication of a MAFF audit report.

The report, which looked at 105 supervised MHS premises between June and Dec 1996, found that in more than half the abattoirs veterinary supervision was below standard.

Problems with the hygiene practices and variations in the MHS hygiene assessment system were encountered in a quarter of abattoirs, while nine out of 57 slaughterhouses received recommendations for improvement over ante-mortem inspections.

Some MHS staff had no documents to enforce legislation at abattoirs, while in a quarter of the plants visited records were either absent or incomplete.

And in a quarter of the slaughterhouses there were significant health problems with some contaminated carcasses not being health marked.

Labours farm spokesman Gavin Strang said: "Yet again we have a report which shows that this government has failed to enforce high standards of hygiene in our abattoirs."

Responding to the report, the MHS said all inspectors would receive additional hygiene training by July 31, and staff who failed to enforce regulations would face disciplinary action.