24 October 1997

Risk material rules will add to abattoir costs

REMOVAL of specified risk material from sheep over 12 months old will add to abattoir costs and provide a logistical headache.

Speaking at the NSA meeting, former meat inspector Mike Owen, who now sells abattoir equipment throughout Europe, warned that the regulations will present a huge concern for processors.

"Currently, the animals head is removed and sprayed blue. But the new requirement to split all sheep over 12 months old will require additional meat hygiene staff to examine dentition, as well as separating production runs."

He said that ewes and older lambs would have to be killed at the end of the day. "After that, the entire plant will have to be cleaned before re-starting processing."

Separating production would add to pressure, as most abattoirs now ran faster than five years ago, he said. "Livestock throughput is far higher, as abattoir numbers have fallen from 700 five years ago to only 420 plants now."

Splitting ewes to remove the spinal column was not hard, he said. But he expressed reservations about the circular saw currently in development. "We do not know wether blade life will be sufficient." &#42