Safer meat for consumers and more effective enforcement of meat hygiene and animal welfare legislation are some of the potential benefits to consumers resulting from the challenging new performance targets set for the Meat Hygiene Service, Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, announced today.

The performance targets have been approved by the Food Standards Agency Board. Sir John said:

“In setting these targets the over-riding aim of the Board has been to protect consumers. Our objective is the hygienic production of fresh meat. We want to build on the already high standards of the MHS in enforcing the controls designed to minimise contamination during production and to prevent any potentially BSE infective material getting into the human food chain.

“For those targets relating to public health protection, we have also introduced a policy of zero tolerance if the MHS fails to do its job where this carries an immediate serious public health risk requiring immediate corrective action by the MHS.”

The aims of the targets relating to public health protection are to reduce the microbiological hazards in meat and to remove Specified Risk Material (SRM) from the human and animal food chains.

This will require the MHS to:

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  • fully apply the Clean Livestock Policy;
  • ensure that the health mark stamp is not applied to any meat showing visible faecal or alimentary tract contents contamination;
  • take effective action in slaughterhouses with low Hygiene Assessment System (HAS) scores to improve hygiene standards; and
  • strictly enforce SRM controls in abattoirs.

Ensuring that the MHS operates at the highest standards is of prime importance and the targets also include introducing an independent element to the MHS Appeals System and maintaining full compliance with Charter Mark standards.