Proposals for a meat hygiene policy forum - Annex A
Monday 11 September 2000
Proposals for a meat hygiene policy forum - Annex A
1. To encourage open and constructive discussion of meat hygiene policy issues between representatives of consumers, the meat industry, enforcers, retailers and policy makers.
2. Views are sought on the following draft terms of reference:
"(i) To provide those with an interest in the hygienic production of meat with the means to (a) discuss issues arising from current meat hygiene policy (including policy on protecting the human food chain from BSE) directly with the policy makers and (b) help inform future policy decisions. (This will cover policy at EU as well as national level);
(ii) To set up and co-ordinate a programme of work aimed at ensuring the hygienic production of meat at all stages;
(iii) To set up sub-groups of experts / specialists as required, to consider specific issues and provide non-technical advice to the central Policy Forum to help establish an agreed position to take forward into discussions in Brussels. (e.g. on microbiological testing); and
(iv) To explore ways in which to encourage further implementation of HACCP on a voluntary basis throughout the meat industry in advance of a mandatory requirement."
3. Point (ii) is intended to serve as a continuation of the work started by the Government / Industry Working Group on Meat Hygiene (GIWG) in its Forward Programmes for the Red Meat and Poultry Industries. (See paragraph 6 below for further details of the GIWG).
Are you content with the terms of reference as suggested? Would you like to see any changes? Are there any additional areas you believe should be covered?
4. We propose that the most workable way to involve a large number of organisations in the discussions of meat hygiene policy issues would be to apply a two-tiered approach to membership of the Forum:
- A central 'Policy Forum' comprised of a limited number of representatives from consumer bodies, the main meat industry organisations, enforcers, retailers, and policy makers.
- A 'Policy Forum Advisory Group' based around (but not restricted to) the current membership of the Government / Industry Working Group on Meat Hygiene (GIWG). The Advisory Group would provide a pool of expertise which could be called upon by the central Policy Forum to consider specific issues by means of specialist sub-groups.
The two-tiered system would allow meetings of the central Policy Forum to be kept to a manageable size whilst allowing views to be gathered / issues to be raised by a range of interested bodies.
Do you think this is a sensible approach? Do you have any alternative suggestions?
5. It is envisaged that meetings of the central Policy Forum should take place on a six-monthly basis. Views from the Policy Forum will be reported, via its Chairman, to the MHS Supervisory Board, which will be chaired by the FSA Deputy Chair, Suzi Leather. The central Policy Forum itself will be chaired by the Head of the FSA's Meat Hygiene Division. The Secretariat for the Forum will also be provided from within Meat Hygiene Division.
Are you content with the suggested frequency of meetings?
6. The Government / Industry Working Group on Meat Hygiene, which we are proposing should form the nucleus of the Policy Forum Advisory Group, is a well-established group composed of representatives from Government Departments and farming / meat industry organisations (see attached Annex B for a current membership). The GIWG has met regularly since 1997 to discuss a limited range of meat hygiene policy issues. At a GIWG meeting in October 1999, consideration was given to the future of the Group in view of the fact that it had achieved many of its original objectives (i.e. it had fully implemented, or had made considerable progress on implementing the recommendations set out in its Forward Programmes for the Red Meat and Poultry Industries). The consensus view expressed at that meeting was that the Group should
become more forward looking and concentrate its efforts where these could be most influential e.g. to link in with developments on HACCP in Europe. Agreement to this course of action was received from the Minister of Agriculture, who was then responsible for the matter, at the end of December last year.
7. It would seem logical for the GIWG to be absorbed into the new structure, to form the basis of the new Policy Forum Advisory Group. The central Policy Forum could draw upon this resource, setting up sub-groups of specialists to consider particular issues in detail, such as that set up under the auspices of the GIWG to consider microbiological checks within slaughterhouses, (the Microbiology Sub-Group - see Annex B). Experts could be drawn from other organisations as required. It is proposed that the chair and secretariat for each sub-group should be provided by the relevant Division within the Food Standards Agency. Technical sub-groups would meet as frequently as required to fulfil the purpose for which they were established and would be required to provide advice and non-technical reports on their work to the central Policy Forum. Members of the Advisory Group, and its sub-groups, would be able to propose items for discussion to the central Policy Forum by writing to the Forum Secretariat.
Do you agree with this approach? Do you have any alternative suggestions?
8. Suggestions for membership of the central Policy Forum are set out in Annex C. We have tried to ensure that consumer groups, enforcers, retailers and the meat industry are all fairly represented. We propose to take the interests of ethnic minority groups fully into account by inviting representation from the Muslim Working Group, currently run by the MAFF's Animal Health Group, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Do you have any suggestions for additions or deletions to the Policy Forum? Do you feel that consumers / ethnic groups / retailers / enforcers are adequately represented? What are your views on the maximum workable size for the central Policy Forum? Are you content with the proposals for the Policy Forum Advisory Group?