Meat hygiene regulations intended to enable a fairer charging system for small abattoirs to be implemented have been greatly improved following lobbying from organisations including the NFU. The NFU had expressed fears that the proposals for efficiency control measures within the regulations would fly in the face of the good intentions of the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force that proposed them.

NFU Livestock Committee Vice Chairman Ian Frood said he was pleased that the re-drafted regulations largely mirrored the suggestions made by the NFU in its response to the Food Standards Agency consultation.

Dr Frood said: “Our major concerns were that the proposals enabling the new charging system would burden abattoirs with added bureaucracy and costs – precisely what the taskforce wanted to avoid. It is therefore extremely welcome that the Government has listened to our concerns.”

Some of the improvements are:

  • The removal of the provision to charge for lack of uniformity in the size of animals sent to the abattoir.

  • The removal of the provision to charge as a result of special travelling times.

  • The inclusion of the provision for disputes between the Meat Hygiene Service and slaughterhouses to be aired by an appeals service.

The draft statutory instrument has now been laid before Parliament in order for the changes to come into force from 2 April.

The Meat Inspection Charges Task Force resulted from a review of red tape in the farming industry in 1999, instigated by the NFU.

Dr Frood added: “From the outset, our aim has been to bring an end to the current punitive charging system for smaller and medium sized abattoirs.

“The re-drafted statutory instrument now enables such a charging system to be put in place.”