Introduction to meat inspection

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland (DAERA), has a central role in approved slaughter and cutting establishments through the Veterinary Public Health Programme (VPHP) within Veterinary Service.

Aims of meat inspection

The primary aim of VPHP in these approved establishments is to protect the public health by ensuring the food business operator fulfils his or her obligations to produce safe food.  This particular function is carried out on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The VPHP also actively encourages the maintenance and improvement of animal welfare standards in slaughterhouses and maintains vigilance for animal diseases.  Export capability and veterinary certification of meat is another important function of the service in meat premises.

Meat Inspection Team

The Official Veterinarian (OV) leads the Meat Inspection Team working in the meat premises.  The OV is assisted in relation to meat hygiene and inspection duties by qualified Official Auxiliaries or Meat and / or Poultry Meat Inspectors as they are known.

The OV has overall responsibility for the following functions:

  • health certification of fresh meat
  • ante-mortem health inspection of animals
  • monitoring of animal welfare at slaughter
  • post-mortem health inspection of slaughtered animals
  • residue sampling
  • seizure of unfit meat or meat not produced in accordance with food hygiene requirements
  • health marking of fresh meat
  • verifying food business operators compliance with food law, in particular the specific requirements of Regulations (EC) No. 852/ 2004 and 853/2004
  • verifying that specified risk material is handled and disposed of correctly by the food business operator
  • verifying that other animal by-products are handled and disposed of correctly by the food business operator.

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