New Red Meat Code of Practice being worked on

A new Red Meat Code of Practice (CoP) is being worked on by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in a joint project to update the former Industry Standards to fit into the regulatory environment introduced by the Animal Products Act 1999 (APA).

The Red Meat CoP is intended to give guidance on the currently agreed way to meet the regulatory requirements of MPI under the APA; and also what is considered an appropriate level of government control of red meat. According to MPI, it is also an important document to illustrate to overseas markets how New Zealand meets its agreed obligations and adds to reform of the national meat inspection programme.

The goal is to modernise the current prescriptive requirements that were introduced as part of the ‘command and control/accept reject/one-size-fits-all’ doctrine in favour of more outcome focused policies of the Animal Products Act 1999 (APA).

The new approach focuses on Operators, in this instance meat companies operating a risk management programme (RMP), taking responsibility for producing meat that is fit for purpose and meeting performance criteria set by MPI. Most of these relate to food safety, explains MIA technical executive Kevin Cresswell.

The final CoP will include 10 chapters, covering all food safety aspects of red meat production and processing.

A working group has been formed of representatives of MIA member companies and MPI staff. Its initial focus has been on Chapter 5: Slaughter and Dressing (which was formerly Industry Standard 5). This chapter deals the New Zealand Standard covering general slaughter and dressing), statistical process control and performance criteria. It also includes an appendix covering validation of alternative processes. It covers all farmed animals: including cattle, bobby calves, sheep and lambs, farmed deer, pigs, goats, ostriches and emu, as well as wild and game mammals that are presented for dressing.
Cresswell reports that the working group has reviewed IS5, asking the fundamental questions around the food safety outcomes sought, as well as the associated performance criteria that processors must achieve.

“The group has also separated what should be requirements from what should in fact be guidance with flexibility in meeting the guidelines providing the performance criteria are met,” he says, adding that the intent is that once this chapter of the code is complete, meat companies can review their RMPs and ensure their processes are validated as meeting the performance criteria.

Submissions on the new draft close on 5 June 2015. More information and the draft Code can be found at the MPI website: www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/code-of-practice-red-meat-slaughter-and-dressing.

This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (June/July 2015) and is reproduced here with permission.

Since this article was written news came in that Red Meat Code of Practice chapters six (presentation for post-mortem examination), seven (post-mortem examination) and eight (post-mortem dispositions) are being issued to replace Manual 16. These will come into force on May 31 2015.

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