Fair charge for Poultry Inspection Aug02

Bashir Khanbhai, Conservative MEP for the East of England, has criticised new proposals from the European Commission that will place more regulations and higher costs on Britain's poultry processing industry without any justifiable reason.

The plans, outlined in an Official Feed and Food Controls working document, will disadvantage small and medium-size operators and could make them unviable, leading to their possible closure and a consequent loss of jobs.

After discussing the issue with poultry processors in East Anglia, Mr Khanbhai said: "The UK Meat Hygiene Service, like those in the other member states in the EU, currently use a 'price per bird' inspection fee in slaughter houses nationwide. This is the fairest system as it does not disadvantage small and medium size processors and forces the Meat Hygiene Service, like other Government inspection agencies, to contain its costs.

"The proposed change to an inspection charge 'at actual cost' will mean substantially higher charges for smaller processors, especially in rural areas, slaughtering less than a million birds per month. It would result in live birds being transported over longer distances, closure of smaller processors and loss of many rural jobs.

"The Meat Hygiene Service should stick to the current system, which works well and I urge the Anglian Poultry Processors Action Group, supported by their national association and the NFU, to put pressure on Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency to reject the Commission's proposals.

Mr Khanbhai pledged: "I will monitor the situation in Brussels to do my best to ensure that East Anglia's processors and poultry breeders do not suffer."