26 April 2000
Hygiene official forces plant closure
By Alistair Driver
A PROFITABLE Herefordshire meat plant has been forced to close with the loss of 42 jobs after its hygiene standards were dramatically downgraded
The Mead Webber plant at Eardisley, which processed 350,000 lambs a year and had been operating for 19 years, shut down on Wednesday (26 April).
The closure came despite five years of attaining Hygiene Assessment Scores between 75 and 85 awarded by 16 different meat hygiene inspectors.
A new official awarded a score of less than 60 and imposed restrictions on the plant which cut throughput from 250 lambs an hour to just 85.
John Mead, joint-managing director of Mead Webber, defended the decision to close the plant, saying he was in no doubt more restrictions would follow.
“In 12 months time maybe we may have been in a position where we could not pay our bills, and we did not want that to happen,” he said.
He said the closure had nothing to do with trading conditions, claiming that Mead Webber was a profitable plant that has just had one of its best years.
The company has spent has spent 250,000-300,000 on upgrading the plant in the last three years and achieved some of the standards in the region, he said.
A spokesman for the Meat Hygiene Service, which oversees meat inspections, said the organisation was preparing a response on the matter.