NFMFT president reaches out to Gove to help small abattoirs
Following his appearance on the BBC programme Countryfile, the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT) president, John Mettrick, has written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, calling for reduced costs and red tape.
Writing on behalf of independent craft butchers and slaughterers in England and Wales, Mettrick urged Gove to help cut costs and red tape for low throughput rural abattoirs to support animal welfare and the short supply chain of the farmer to the butcher to the customer.
The president is seeking Government action in finding a long-term future for what the Federation described as a “rapidly diminishing network of small local slaughterhouses, which are often seen as being best for animal welfare, reducing stress due to the short distances that stock travel and their low throughput”.
As a butcher and small slaughterhouse operator himself, Mettrick noted that he “appreciates that public confidence resulting from high animal welfare standards is vital”, while reminding Gove that the sector “experiences difficulties caused by over-regulation, poor by-product prices and increasing waste removal costs”.
Noting the bill introducing compulsory CCTV in English abattoirs is before Parliament, Mettrick highlighted that installing CCTV costing around £10,000 could lead to small abattoirs closing.
He is calling on the Government to consider making the veterinary ante-mortem inspection in low throughput plants the responsibility of the operator where supported with CCTV will reduce the regulatory burden and cut costs both for operators and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Mettrick added that the removal of veterinary ante-mortem inspection will not diminish food safety or animal welfare, citing FSA 2014 statistics, published in the latest report from the Sustainable Food Trust.
He also reminded Gove about France, where flexibilities available under EU Regulation 854/2004 are interpreted to allow the initial ante-mortem inspection to be carried out by Official Auxiliaries (OA’s) and verified only when necessary by official veterinary inspection.
Mettrick suggested: “Long supply chains despite being supported with reams of paperwork are susceptible to fraud or error as evidenced by various incidents.
“The Federation will be happy to work with the government to find ways to support small abattoirs, reduce regulatory burdens and help establish a meat inspection system proportional to risk and not just rule-based.”