This review follows a wave of enforcement action by the agencies in relation to issues of non-compliance in the meat sector. Production had been suspended at wholesaler Russell Hume while recalls were issued by suppliers Fairfax Meadow and DB Foods.
It is hoped the review will “increase public and stakeholder confidence in the meat industry and its regulation”, “improve the ability to identify non-compliance and take prompt action to minimise the risk to public health and food safety”, “assess how the industry currently operates across the whole supply chain” and “increase awareness of circumstances and factors which can lead to non-compliance”.
The review will be undertaken by an internal team from FSA and FSS supported by an external reference group whose role will be to challenge findings and provide an external perspective. The review team will gather evidence from a wide range of sources including through industry workshops, meetings and plant visits.
The scope of the review will include all types of cutting plants (red meat, white meat and game); how the current legislation works and the guidance supporting it; how the ‘official controls’ are carried out which must be followed to ensure compliance with hygiene legislative requirements (this includes audits, inspections, sampling and surveillance); the roles and responsibilities of food businesses, regulators and assurance bodies and how incidents are managed and responded to.
Results in June
A joint comment from Jason Feeney and Geoff Ogle, chief executives of the FSA and FSS respectively said: “We are concerned about recent instances of companies breaching hygiene rules. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules, rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food - and food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations. Our review will be far reaching and thorough and we will announce our initial findings in June.”
Both agencies have met with representatives of the domestic meat industry.
“We are pleased that the meat industry representatives who we met with have pledged their full and effective engagement with the review,” added the statement.