26 April 2000
Hygiene service backs Eardisley closure
By FWi staff
THE Meat Hygiene Service has defended one of its officials who is being blamed for the closure of a profitable meat processing plant in Herefordshire.
The Mead Webber plant at Eardisley shut down on Wednesday (26 April) with the loss of 42 jobs after its hygiene standards were downgraded.
John Mead, joint-managing director of the factory, blamed the closure on an unofficial Hygiene Assessment Score following a visit by a hygiene inspector.
The unnamed inspector awarded a hygiene score of less than 60, despite previous inspections over a five years which resulted in scores between 75 and 85.
The official also imposed restrictions on the plant which cut throughput from 250 lambs an hour to just 85.
But a Meat Hygiene Service spokesman defended the inspectors decision, saying that the organisations primary concern was to protect the consumer.
“The inspection at Mead Webber was carried out by an experienced vet who came to the plant and in several areas was not happy,” he said.
“He brought this to the attention of the owner who, rather than address the problems, chose to close the plant.”
Commenting on the much lower score than had been previously awarded, the spokesman said the new vet went to the factory with a “fresh pair of eyes”.
But he refused to comment on whether the score awarded implied that previous inspectors had awarded overgenerous scores.