6 March 2001
Meat inspector flouts disease rules
By Donald MacPhail
A GOVERNMENT meat inspector sent a farmer on an 80-mile journey in breach of regulations designed to minimise foot-and-mouth disease.
Leicestershire producer Alan Tacy was told to take his animals home from an abattoir – in breach of strict “one-way journey” movement conditions.
As the truck travelled homeward, Mr Tacy had to make frantic phone calls to persuade Meat Hygiene Service staff to take the livestock.
Mr Tacy, from Peatling Parva, feared the animals could return with foot-and-mouth disease or lead to his farm being placed under total restriction.
“If Id done that there was a risk of bringing in the disease,” he said. “Even if I hadnt it could have meant my farm being closed down.
“The animals were on the truck for six hours, and thats annoyed me as much as anything. One-way journeys are supposed to be a crucial part of the scheme.”
Tough movement controls were introduced over the weekend to permit the slaughter of livestock from areas unaffected by foot-and-mouth disease.
Animals transported under licence should go direct from farm to abattoir, unless going to a collecting centre, to minimise the risk of spreading the disease.
But when Mr Tacys load of five heifers and 34 sheep arrived at Bates Abattoir in Birmingham on Monday (05 March), vehicles were queuing to be disinfected.
A Meat Hygiene Service vet advised the driver to return to Mr Tacys farm as the truck could not be dealt with that night.
Although the lorry arrived back at Mr Tacys farm, it did not enter before heading back to Birmingham for the second time.
An MHS inspection crew was called out and it was finally admitted at 10pm and the livestock unloaded.
An MHS spokesman admitted that the truck should not have been turned away, but said delays in disinfecting vehicles had caused backlogs.
He said there had been problems in some areas with dirty vehicles taking longer to disinfect – in one case six hours.
The spokesman called on abattoirs to make allowance for cleaning time in their schedules and for hauliers to ensure vehicles were clean.
“These are common-sense measures to counter the threat of foot-and-mouth, but to make them work weve got to have the co-operation of the entire industry,” he said.
“Theres no point in trying to blame anyone because in the end weve got to work together.”