10 September 1997
Abattoirs to be ranked by hygiene scores
By Boyd Champness, FWi
The hygiene scores of individual abattoirs will be released to the public following the governments announcement today that it aims to improve the flagging hygiene standards of British meat plants.
Agricultural minister Dr Jack Cunningham said the government would be introducing tough new measures for abattoirs to abide by and failure to do so would result in forced closure.
Under the plans the government will publish the Meat Hygiene Assessment (HAS) scores of individual plants starting in January next year, so that the food industry and consumers can easily see the best and worst in the business.
The league ladder of hygiene scores has been introduced into a number of countries, namely Australia, with the desired result of improving standards in the abattoir industry.
Dr Cunningham said scores would be collated over a three month period and then released, thus ensuring that one slight hiccup would not damage the good name of an individual abattoir.
“Publication of individual HAS scores would allow retailers and consumers to choose where they buy their meat. Good abattoirs with high standards have nothing to fear. Poor performers will need to raise their game if they are to remain in a competitive marketplace,” Dr Cunningham said.
The government will also be introducing the internationally recognised Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems. This enables abattoirs to identify potential hazards and control them before problems arise.
Dr Cunningham said HACCP had been introduced in a number of Western countries and it was only a matter of time before it was made compulsory in the EU.
The government has also called for an industry-wide hygiene training and certification scheme, to be drawn up by the Meat Training Council, to improve the knowledge of those working on production lines.
Farmers will also have to do their bit by ensuring that animals that arrive at abattoirs for slaughter are clean, otherwise they will be rejected, the minister said.
Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers Society chairman, Richard Cracknell said he was “quietly” supportive of what the government was trying to do, saying that responsible abattoirs have already introduced many of the measures the government is calling for.
The introduction of HACCP was the main recommendation of Professor Hugh Penningtons report on E. coli. Professor Pennington was commissioned to do the report following the E. coli outbreak in Lanarkshire last year which killed 20 people.