New charging system for meat inspections

The Food Standards Agency has dropped plans to raise meat hygiene inspection charges in abattoirs by 4%, but will proceed with a new charging system.

The new system will base charges on the time involved in the inspection process at meat businesses, rather than a set price. If approved by ministers, it will come into effect on 27 September in Northern Ireland and 28 September in Great Britain.

Farming unions welcomed the news, as they had feared that higher inspection charges would be passed back to farmers.

“This is the right decision and is good news,” NFU livestock board chairman, Alistair Mackintosh said. “We were concerned that any additional costs could have had an impact on the operational viability of meat plants and, as a result, the whole production chain because any increase would have inevitably been passed back down the chain.”

NFU Scotland’s Nigel Miller said the union had also received assurances from the FSA that support would remain available for low and medium throughput plants in Scotland where the dividends brought by moving to a time base for inspection costs would be difficult to achieve.

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