21 March 1997

NFU issues hygiene guidelines for SW

By John Burns

IN the absence of published official cleanliness standards for livestock arriving at abattoirs, the NFUs south-west regional office has issued its own "clean cattle code" based on advice from a senior vet in the region.

The Meat Hygiene Service is to issue its own guidelines, including pictures, within a month. Paul Jackson, the MHSs south-west manager, explains: "The NFU code is not the final standard but, as long as it is met, livestock will not be rejected for being too dirty. It errs on the side of caution and it does not necessarily follow that an animal failing to meet the NFU code would be rejected at the abattoir," he says.

The NFU cattle code recommends farmers ensure the following parts of cattle are free from significant contamination:

&#8226 Along a line running up the back of an animals back legs from below the hock to the tail .

&#8226 At least six inches either side of a line running down the middle of the animal from brisket to tail. The Meat Hygiene Service is looking for a foot-wide clean strip running lengthwise along an animals underside.

&#8226 Around the knees of the animals front legs.

"Producers should also ensure the whole of the animals belly below a line from the point of the shoulder to its hip is reasonably clear of any contamination and that gross soiling anywhere else is removed," says Mr Jackson.

Animals which have been cleaned by washing must be dry before reaching the abattoir.

&#8226 farmers weekly asked the MHS to help us take pictures of cattle which would be rejected and those which would be acceptable at an abattoir. But Mr Jackson turned down the opportunity because of the risk that the photographs might contradict or confuse the MHSs own pictorial guide when it was published in a about a month.n