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Lord Donoughue: In the period April 1998 to March 1999 the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carried out two inspection visits (June 1998 and September 1998) to the United Kingdom on controls in fresh (red) meat establishments under Directive 64/433/EEC.
Lord Donoughue: Yes. In any event, the management at each premises visited by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) are informed at the time of the inspection of any observations the FVO inspectors may have.
Whether they will define the term "advice" where it relates to official veterinary surgeons and their relationship with slaughterhouse owners and operators; and whether that definition encompasses more than the identification of non-compliance with relevant regulations.[HL3018]
Lord Donoughue: Official veterinary surgeons of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) have a responsibility to take fair and effective enforcement action in order to obtain compliance in licensed meat plants with the legislation for which the MHS is the enforcement authority. In line with the MHS hierarchy of enforcement, such action may include the provision of informal advice (written and verbal) to slaughterhouse owners and operators on both statutory requirements and best practice.
Lord Donoughue: Two. The first related to the frequency of veterinary supervision required for licensed cold stores and the second to the level and frequency of supervision required for low throughput (permanently derogated) slaughterhouses and cutting plants.
Lord Donoughue: Yes. The training which all EU veterinary surgeons are required to undertake provides the skills necessary to diagnose, at ante-mortem inspection, diseases of public health significance, such as BSE. (Environmental Health Officers and senior meat inspectors do not receive such training.)
Lord Donoughue: The performance of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) in licensed premises is audited by Veterinary Meat Hygiene Advisers (VMHAs). As auditors, VMHAs do not have a direct role in enforcement but audit the MHS's enforcement of the relevant regulations as set out in the MHS operations manual. The auditors are experienced in the field of veterinary public health and meat hygiene, have detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation and the MHS operations manual, and are trained auditors.
Lord Donoughue: If there were sufficient demand, the Government would consider publishing the Meat Hygiene Service operations manual in electronic format. Placing it on the Internet may be preferable to making it available on disc, as the manual is frequently amended and updated.
Lord Donoughue: The Government have noted the concerns raised about this compound and the assessment made by the Austrian authorities under the EU review of agricultural pesticides. The Government therefore asked the independent experts of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to examine all the issues which have been raised.
The committee advised that lindane does not pose an unacceptable risk to consumers but that the exposure of operators using lindane to treat seed was above acceptable levels. Ministers have therefore decided that the use of lindane as a seed treatment should cease immediately and that further conditions should be applied to some other agricultural and non-agricultural uses. Companies have until 28 June to make representations on the action proposed.
Lord Donoughue: We are in dialogue with the European Commission on a number of meat hygiene issues, including the interpretation of part of the poultry meat directive. An announcement on any clarification of the meaning of the directive will be made at the appropriate time.
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