The meat cutting plant review was first announced in February 2018 following a series of non-compliance issues at major processors, including 2 Sisters Food Group and Russell Hume. The review’s findings were then published in October 2018 and outlined recommendations to be delivered over the next 18 months.
Some of the recommendations put forward for the ‘short term’ included: the updating of procedures for authorised officers responsible for approvals, enforcement, inspections and audit of cutting plants and cold stores; encouraging food businesses to participate in the information-sharing initiative, which 2 Sisters Food Group have trialled with the agencies; and inviting a small, representative number of local authorities to participate in a trial to evaluate the use of a single organisation to deliver all official controls in a geographic location.
In a joint statement to Food Manufacture, the FSA and FSS said: “Since the publication of the joint Meat Cutting Plant and Cold Store review last October, both the FSA and FSS have been working to implement the review’s recommendations and have set up a cross-industry steering group to oversee progress.
“These recommendations have been adopted into work streams across both organisations as the review has moved into a more detailed development phase ahead of initial implementation.
“A joint meeting with both regulators will be held in early April to provide an update to industry on progress so far. Both the FSA and FSS will present further progress updates to their respective boards in due course.”
The past month has seen a raft of enforcement action for non-compliance of regulations. Romford Halal Meat was fined £23,952.35 for hygiene offences including carcase bunching, while Asia Halal Meat Suppliers was fined £14,666 plus £4,794 of costs for food hygiene offences and Asia Poultry & Meat was fined £240,000 plus £12,824.05 of costs for the removal of meat that had been detained by FSA staff due to the presence of rodent activity on the premises.
Food Manufacture understands these incidents have been discovered as part of regular audits and inspections rather than intelligence provided by third parties, as was the case for many incidents in 2018.