Food Standards Scotland to take over meat hygiene inspections

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Food Standards Scotland is to take over meat hygiene inspection controls
Food Standards Scotland is to take over meat hygiene inspection controls

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Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has ended its contract with Hallmark Meat Hygiene and is to take control of official veterinarian and meat hygiene inspection functions.

FSS will take over the function from 16 September 2019, giving Hallmark Meat Hygiene three months’ notice on its contract. It said that under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE), Hallmark staff might be able to transfer to FSS.

The FSS said this decision came after “careful consideration of all the options”​.

Ian McWatt, chief operating officer at FSS, said: “Staff who are entitled to transfer to FSS under TUPE will become FSS employees. We believe this is the most effective of the options considered – and allows FSS greater opportunity to offer career development opportunities for veterinary staff. This difficult decision has the support of Scottish Ministers.”

Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) president Andy McGowan welcomed the progress made on the situation. “We welcome the fact that FSS has made a clear decision on this issue and that everyone can now focus on how the official controls (OC) procedure is run, rather than who runs it. 

“Our principle concern has always focused on the need for member businesses to be provided with an OC service which is 100% effective and flexible, with all inspection staff being deployed in the most efficient manner possible.”

McGowan urged FSS to make the process more flexible in order to reduce costs. “The red meat processing sector already carries a heavy cost burden for meat inspections, which many competitive food processors do not face. This puts us at a financial disadvantage, which needs to be addressed by the Government, in terms of applying the same inspection rules and costs across all food processing areas, and by FSS, in terms of ensuring that the current procedure is run on the most cost-effective basis possible. 

“We have repeatedly stated that any available vet and meat inspection resource that is found to be surplus to our fluctuating business needs should be made more nimble, allowing all under-deployed resource to be immediately reallocated to undertake public health inspection requirements in other food businesses and industries. The current inflexible and rigid system is an inefficient use of public funds, which we hope the new delivery structure will address.”

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