Continued reduction of microbiological hazards in meat, and strict enforcement of the BSE controls in licensed plants, are among the performance targets set for the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) for the financial year 2001-2002.


The targets – published today – were approved by the Board of the Food Standards Agency at its meeting in London on Wednesday 9th May following full public consultation.


The work of the Meat Hygiene Service is continuous, with more than 1,600 MHS staff inspecting millions of carcases 365 days a year, including weekends and in the middle of the night. The MHS is an agency of the Food Standards Agency.


The majority of the targets are a continuation of those already in force. This will allow a year on year comparison of MHS performance to be made on key aims such as protecting public health by reducing microbiological hazards in meat, and strictly enforcing the controls on Specified Risk Material (SRM) – those parts of an animal which are most likely to contain BSE infectivity, and which must therefore be removed immediately after slaughter and disposed of safely. Another key aim is to make sure that staff receive adequate training to ensure effective enforcement of the meat hygiene and animal welfare legislation.


New targets introduced for 2001-2002 require the MHS to:




  • take action within three months to address the key operational findings by missions from the EC’s Food and Veterinary Office;


  • strictly enforce the Over Thirty Month Rule in licensed plants (this rule prohibits cattle over that age from entering the human food chain, unless they have been reared under the Beef Assurance Scheme) to complement the SRM target;


  • implement the accepted recommendations of the Deloitte efficiency review of the Meat Hygiene Service.

NOTE FOR EDITORS


The full list of MHS Performance Targets, giving issues and aims, modes of assessment, and consumer benefits, is available on the Food Standards Agency’s website at www.foodstandards.gov.uk/meat_hygiene.htm