SAMW respond to FSA audit consultation
The FSA has launched a consultation to review audit arrangements in approved meat establishments, including slaughterhouses, cutting plants and game handling establishments. The consultation deadline is before Friday 16 May 2014. A link to the consultation details follows this report.
“The proposed changes are welcomed by the industry having largely resulted from a strong case for reform made by SAMW over the past four years. It is important, of course, that the changes now proposed are underpinned by a team of specialist, competent and suitably qualified auditors who will not only assess relevant plants but also the performance of the on-site veterinarians employed by the FSA.
“Historically, audit issues have been a source of great disagreement, even animosity, between industry and FSA, despite abattoirs being well used to being audited by a wide range of different authorities, such as BRC, on behalf of retailers, quality assurance schemes, organic and welfare designations, as well as to meet EU requirements. While our members therefore had extensive hands-on knowledge and understanding of audit demands, progress towards the proposed position we now have only became possible following a positive move by FSA last year to work in partnership with industry. This finally began to yield significant results.
“The current consultation is therefore based on joint agreements between FSA and industry, being designed to ensure that future audit requirements are discharged in a relevant, risk-based and proportionate manner. SAMW is hopeful therefore that the proposed changes will answer most of our concerns, being based on actual outcomes and evidence, rather than theoretical or potential hazards.
“Another key issue, which we believe is now being addressed, is the failure of the existing process to recognise improvements in plant performance. in contrast, the new solution is designed to allow auditors’ focus to be applied where it is most needed, rather than being allocated largely according to plant size, the species processed and a rigid rota. Hopefully, the new structure will deliver a more relevant meaningful audit system than currently exists to the benefit of FSA, industry and, most important of all, consumers.”