Approved premises inspections

Our verification, audit and meat inspection services protect public and animal health and welfare in Scotland.

We carry out audit 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 the 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 approvals 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.

Post-mortem inspection

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 (MHIs), supervised by our Official Veterinarian (OV) – although the OV will sometimes do this. Slaughterhouse staff can assist with certain post mortem inspection (PMI) activities provided certain conditions are met. Read these conditions

Red meat and large wild game carcasses can only be health marked by or under the supervision of the OV, if they pass the inspection.  There is no requirement for the health mark to be applied on other carcasses (such as poultry).

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.

Enforcement action

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.

See the Manual for Official Controls

Sampling

We carry out a variety of testing and surveillance for other Government departments and agencies, under formal service level agreements.

Animal identification

We check cattle passports and ear tags in abattoirs, to make sure animals have been correctly identified. We then ensure that Food Business Operators are sending the cattle passports to the British Cattle Movement Service, where the animal’s details are entered onto the Cattle Tracing System. We also verify that every animal can be traced back to the farm of origin.

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.

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Slaughter

We ensure that animals are protected prior to and during slaughter and killing.