10 October 2000
Reform abattoir laws, says rural group

By FWi staff

OVER-ZEALOUS legislation is leading to the closure of small and medium-sized abattoirs across the country, claims a new report.

The independent survey commissioned by the Countryside Alliances Honest Food campaign calls for a reduction of red tape to ease the burden on rural abattoirs.

Its findings have been backed by Hugh Pennington, who investigated the E.coli outbreak in Lanarkshire.

The Countess of Mar of the Honest Food campaign said small and medium abattoirs were “pivotal” to rural areas.

They served the needs of suppliers of niche markets, such as rare breeds and organic meat, and buyers wanting specialist meat.

The Countess said there was “an overkill of veterinary supervision” and warned costs and regulations could drive slaughtering underground.

“The trouble is that youre going to have people who abuse the system,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

“As the small abattoirs close, people dont want to send their animals tens of miles and what theyre doing is having them done on the quiet.”

This warning came as Food Standards Agency chairman Sir John Krebs said private slaughtering could put BSE infected meat into the food chain.

Farmers can kill animals on-farm or at unlicensed abattoirs, where control measures may not be applied, provided the meat is only for their own use.

But Sir John suspects that some ends up being passed on to the wider public.