THE Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has called on the government to use flexibility gained by leaving the European Union to reform the regulation of slaughterhouses.

In particular, AIMS says that technology should be used to reduce costs – and improve the viability – of smaller-scale abattoirs.

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Three reports released by the trade association explore changes to export certificates, introducing remote monitoring for inspections and bringing regulators together under one organisation.

AIMS says that the smaller abattoir sector faces “unprecedented financial challenges” that are “threatening the very existence of several businesses”.

All slaughterhouses are treated with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to regulations, AIMS says, with companies expected to comply with EU rules even if they are not exporting.

‘Entirely redundant’

“There are numerous examples of micro-premises – poultry and red meat species – being charged hundreds of thousands of pounds by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to inspections that are entirely redundant, resource-heavy, not risk-based and which are impacting severely on the sustainability of this section of industry,” the report says.

AIMS is calling for a two-tier system, introducing remote inspections for smaller operators, removing the need for a dedicated vet to visit sites to inspect animals physically.

“This on-site ante-mortem requirement can be removed through the use of high-tech thermo-imaging camera technology – and further enhanced through the use of spectroscopic analysis.”

Export Health Certificates

AIMS has also written a report calling for an end to paper-based export certificates.

“The current system of export certification is heavily bureaucratic, expensive and unnecessarily labour-intensive whilst also being reliant on a stretched and limited professional resource,” said the report’s author Jason Aldiss. “Never has there been more of a need for the EHC process to be digitalised”.

“Frankly, the system is a laborious and clumsy process which is prone to error” added Dr Aldiss, “We are in a digital age with a system who’s ‘use by date’ expired some time ago.”