FSS ends contract with Hallmark Meat Hygiene Ltd.

FSS ends contract with Hallmark Meat Hygiene Ltd.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has taken the decision to end its contract with Hallmark Meat Hygiene Ltd. which supplies official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors to undertake controls to support Scotland’s important meat, game and poultry industries.

FSS will deliver this function from 16th September 2019, and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) will be applied to determine whether Hallmark staff are in scope to transfer to FSS.

This decision was reported to be taken after careful consideration of all the options.

FSS states its primary objective remains to ensure that the high safety and animal welfare standards in Scotland’s meat industry are not compromised, and that consumers’ interests are protected.

Ian McWatt, chief operating officer at Food Standards Scotland 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.”

Andy McGowan hopes the new delivery structure will address the inflexible and rigid old system.

SAMW reaction

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) president, Andy McGowan, said: “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.

“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 which 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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