The Food Standards Agency has started a six-week consultation on new rules for pig meat inspections that will come into force in June 2014.
The new rules are being introduced across the European Union and will help official veterinarians and meat inspectors to better target public health risks, while providing a more proportionate and risk-based inspection regime.
The new rules will focus on the visual inspection of all pigs and will mean health checks can be carried out in a way that reduces the risk of bacteria being spread around the meat.
Scientific evidence has shown that hands-on inspection, where the carcase and offal is handled and cut, can spread harmful bacteria. Hands-on inspection will still be carried out, but only where information from the farm or visual inspection at the abattoir has identified potential concerns.
There will also be stricter rules for salmonella control and more risk-based testing for the parasite Trichinella.
The consultation, which runs until May 6, 2014, is seeking views on the practical application of the changes in the UK and the costs, benefits and wider impacts for stakeholders.
“The current system needs modernising,” the director of policy at the FSA, Steve Wearne, said. “Our meat hygiene controls were developed more than a century ago to tackle the health concerns of the day. A modernised inspection system will protect consumers better and be more proportionate to slaughterhouses that control risks effectively.
“We want to ensure the new controls are proportionate and take into account the views of producers and consumers of pork. We look forward to hearing all of the views that come out of this consultation.”
Separate consultations are being held for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and details can be found on the FSA website at: www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/consultations/