Food chain information

All slaughterhouse operators in Scotland are bound by EU food hygiene legislation to request, receive, check and act on food chain information.

This requirement forms part of the whole chain, farm-to-fork, approach to food safety introduced by the Hygiene Regulations from the beginning of 2006. Implementation of Food Chain Information (FCI) was initially required only for poultry, with a delayed, progressive implementation of FCI for other species; pigs from 2008; cattle and sheep from 2010.

FCI contributes to slaughterhouse operators' HACCP-based food safety management systems by providing information about animals procured for slaughter. Many food business operators will already require much of this information from their livestock suppliers as part of their commercial relations with them, and may have little more to do to comply.

We use FCI to help us make decisions on meat, and to determine inspection procedures for animals and groups of animals.

Format of FCI

Legislation does not stipulate how slaughterhouse operators should receive FCI. Operators should select a format that best suits their business. However, model documents have been developed and may be used as they are or customised for their own use by slaughterhouse operators, or the minimum elements may be incorporated into companies’ own documentation (e.g. supplier declarations or passport envelopes). Additionally, methods to exchange information by electronic means may be used.

It is the responsibility of slaughterhouse operators to inform their suppliers about the exact FCI they require and of the form in which they wish to receive it.

Actions on receipt of FCI

Legislation requires slaughterhouse operators to ‘check and act upon’ food chain information. Operators should use FCI to inform their HACCP-based food safety management systems and to make decisions about accepting animals and any special processing arrangements e.g. slaughter at the end of a run, additional dressing requirements, reduced line speed.

If animals arrive at the slaughterhouse without FCI, the operator must immediately notify the official veterinarian (OV). Slaughter may not take place until the OV permits. The carcasses of animals slaughtered without FCI will not be approved for human consumption until the FCI for the animals is received. Any animals arriving without FCI will, at least, cause disruption to the normal operation of the slaughterhouse – it is in operators’ interests to ensure that they comply with the FCI requirements.

FCI model documents

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