Our verification, audit and meat inspection services protect public and animal health and welfare in Scotland. We carry out these services in approved slaughterhouses, game handling establishments and cutting plants (a food business that specialises in de-boning, cutting and jointing the meat from a carcass).
For detailed instruction on Meat Official Controls, see the Manual for Official Controls.
For detailed instruction for the meat industry, see Meat Industry Guidance on food.gov.uk
What we do in approved meat premises
Operators of all approved meat premises are bound by the EU Food Hygiene Regulations to make sure all stages of their food production, processing and distribution meet the relevant hygiene requirements. We check that operators meet those requirements, by providing verification, audit, and meat inspection services in Scotland’s approved fresh meat premises.
For information on apprvals carried out by local authorities, see our Local Authority pages.
Ante-mortem (before death) inspection
We inspect all livestock and poultry in abattoirs before slaughter. Our official veterinarian (OV) will check for injuries, disease, fatigue, stress and mishandling.
After these checks, only clean, dry animals are progressed to slaughter, reducing the risk of meat contamination.
Animal welfare at slaughter
To ensure minimal animal suffering, we check the positioning of stunning equipment, the stun’s effectiveness and the efficiency of bleeding.
We inspect every carcass, to make sure it’s fit to be used for food. This is mostly a job for the meat hygiene inspectors, supervised by our OV – although the OV will sometimes do this. Carcasses that pass the inspection are marked are health marked.
Hygiene at slaughter and cutting
When checking the slaughter and dressing process meets requirements, we look at temperature controls, working practices and the general cleaning and maintenance of the premises.
Animal by-products and specified risk material
By-products include carcass parts that aren’t fit for human consumption, such as skin or feathers. This also includes anything rejected by our operational staff as being unfit. We pay particular attention to specified risk material (SRM), the parts most like to contain BSE infectivity, and make sure all by-products are stained, stored and dispatched according to legislation.
For BSE and other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, see our Animal disease page.
We take enforcement action when meat isn’t produced in accordance with regulations. This can include informal action, serving notices, referral for investigation or withdrawal / suspension of approval. Action is taken as laid out by the Manual for Official Control (MOC) enforcement policy and operational instructions, and the Government’s Enforcement Concordat.
We carry out a variety of testing and surveillance for other Government departments and agencies, under formal service level agreements.
We check cattle passports and ear tags in abattoirs, to make sure animals have been correctly identified. We then send stamped cattle passports to the British Cattle Movement Service, where the animal’s details are entered onto the Cattle Tracing System.
Ready-to-eat meat products and cold stores
We also audit food controls in premises producing ready-to-eat meat products and cold stores located on the same site as a slaughterhouse or a cutting plant.