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Food Safety

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Inspection reports Food and Veterinary Office Veterinary inspections United Kingdom

Report extract in respect of a Food and Veterinary Office mission to the United Kingdom from 5 to 9 June 2000 in order to assess the monitoring of health conditions relating to the production and marketing of fresh pigmeat

NB. This is a summary translation of part of the original mission report (Reference No 1179/2000). It has been provided to assist visitors to this site, but has no official status. Reference should always be made to the full text of the original mission report.


1.1. Legislation

The Community provisions concerning the approval of cold stores in which packaged meat is kept have not yet been incorporated into UK law. A draft amendment is at the consultation stage.

1.2. Structure of competent authorities

The Food Standards Agency has been the competent authority as regards food safety since 1 April 2000 . Like the MAFF previously, it uses the Meat Hygiene Service (executive agency) to ensure that the regulations are enforced in the approved establishments . These changes in the organisation of the competent authorities are too recent for an assessment of their consequences and effectiveness.

1.3. Veterinary supervision

Approval procedure

The procedures for issuing and following up approvals do not ensure that an establishment which no longer complies with the regulations will have its approval withdrawn or suspended.

Monitoring of establishments

Supervision by the VMHAs and internal monitoring by the POVSs are inadequate. In one case they proved incapable of preventing and rectifying serious contraventions of the regulations.

The national requirements in terms of veterinary presence and supervision at approved establishments are not consistent with Community requirements. Some of the slaughterhouses approved under Article 10 of Directive 64/443/EEC carry out slaughtering operations without an official veterinarian being present. As part of an agreement between the Commission and the UK authorities, the latter have undertaken to achieve a satisfactory number of official veterinarians by the first quarter of 2001. The schedule for submitting progress reports in this connection is not always adhered to.

The Hygiene Assessment System (HAS) does not always reflect production conditions and seems unable to ensure that establishments monitored in this way will comply with hygiene requirements.

The problems identified during day-to-day checks by the official service are not always followed up by appropriate action on the part of the company.

Ante-mortem inspections are often undertaken by auxiliary staff. The recording of results is not harmonised and varies considerably from one establishment to another.

Post-mortem inspection at some establishments is incomplete (absence of certain incisions and palpations).

Veterinary supervision of the use of the hygiene mark in the form of labelling and pre-printed packaging is very inadequate.

Examinations for trichinae

Examinations for trichinae are not consistent with the Community provisions, particularly in the case of trade with Member States which do not apply a derogation from systematic examinations.

1.4. Establishments

Very serious hygiene shortcomings likely to constitute a public health risk were found in one establishment, involving personnel, premises and equipment (see also sections 7 and 8.1.1).

At the other establishments, shortcomings with varying degrees of seriousness were observed, concerning operational hygiene and structural conditions. However, these failings did not constitute an immediate risk to consumers' health.

The results of self-monitoring are not always followed up by appropriate remedial action.

Continuous workforce training is not ensured.

1.5. Certificates and commercial documentation

The procedures in place ensure proper certification.

1.6. Animal welfare

An effective surveillance system is applied at the various stages. However, a number of shortcomings were highlighted (stunning, unloading).


2.1. To the competent authorities

2.1.1. Ensure without delay that measures are taken to bring the establishment which did not meet requirements 1 into line.

2.1.2. Ensure that the Community provisions on cold stores are incorporated into national law.

2.1.3. Ensure compliance with the agreement between the Commission and the competent UK authorities regarding the number of official veterinarians (frequency of report transmission).

2.1.4. Ensure harmonised application of the provisions on ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections and hygiene marking.

2.1.5. Ensure compliance with the Community provisions set out in Council Directive 92/120/EEC concerning examinations for trichinae.

2.1.6. Ensure that the competent authorities (OVSs, POVSs and VMHAs) systematically take appropriate and effective action against establishments which do not comply with the regulations.

2.1.7. Within three months of the end of the mission, submit an action plan containing a timetable of measures responding to sections 2.1.2, 2.1.4, 2.1.5 and 2.1.6.

2.2. To the Commission

2.2.1. Ensure compliance with the agreement between the Commission and the competent UK authorities concerning the number of official veterinarians.

2.2.2. Ensure that the Community provisions on cold stores are incorporated into UK law.

2.2.3. Ensure compliance with Directive 64/433/EEC and Directive 92/120/EEC concerning examinations for trichinae.

2.2.4. Take the necessary measures to inform the Member States about the Community situation with regard to examinations for trichinae.


Response of the competent authorities to the mission report

In a letter to the European Commission dated 8 August 2000, the competent authorities in the United Kingdom confirmed that measures had been introduced in response to recommendation 2.1.1.

The letter explains which measures have been introduced, which are under way and which are to be introduced within the time allotted for responding to the other recommendations.


1 Guarantees were offered on this subject at the final meeting on 9 June 2000 and confirmed by fax on 14 June 2000.

Inspection reports Food and Veterinary Office Veterinary inspections United Kingdom


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