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TS Lead The Way For Healthier Animals And Better Food

by 5m Editor
28 June 2007, at 10:19am

UK - Local authority trading standards services have been quick to act on new powers to protect animal livestock - and the food on our tables - according to a new survey.

More than half of local councils who responded to the survey said they had already carried out enforcement action, together with other agencies, since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act in April this year.

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) issued the results of the survey today (Wednesday 27 June) at its annual conference and exhibition in Manchester.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI, said: 'Recent new legislation enforced by trading standards gives powers to ensure the highest possible standards are adhered to by farmers and growers.

'It's a little known fact that local authority trading standards officers have, for many years, been involved in the enforcement of animal welfare legislation relating to farm animals.

'However, the introduction of new regulations for the welfare of animals and food hygiene has toughened up these powers, allowing authorities to use their local knowledge to inform and advise and, as a last resort, enforce.'

Examples of recent prosecutions include a Devon farmer fined £19,000 with £3,000 costs for causing unnecessary suffering to livestock, breaching animal disease control measures, failing to produce veterinary medical records and failing to comply with carcass disposal regulations. The action was taken jointly by Devon County Council and the State Veterinary Service and the farmer was also banned from keeping livestock for 10 years.

A Norfolk farming partnership was fined £19,500 and £6,600 costs after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering and pain and distress to two dying calves.

And a Lincolnshire farmer was fined £4,000, ordered to pay £12,000 costs and banned from keeping sheep for two years following conviction for a number of offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to sheep.

Jeremy Adams, TSI's spokesman on animal health and welfare, said: 'These are just a few examples of a growing list of prosecutions.

'But these are a last resort and there are many ways in which we work with businesses and farmers to advise and inform them. For instance, we can advise on the way they store produce, chemicals or machinery to avoid cross contamination with livestock.

'Our survey, which 30 local authorities responded to, clearly demonstrates that trading standards services are embracing the new regulations.

'It's all about working together with other agencies, farmers and other business owners to make sure livestock is as healthy as possible and that food products are produced and stored hygienically.

'Trading standards also performs a key role in ensuring that food is nutritional, accurately labelled and meets correct compositional standards. This extensive farm to fork responsibility is central to the trading standards enforcement approach.

'The healthier and happier animals are on farms, the higher the standards of the food that ends up on our plates.'

This is what trading standards authorities said in the survey:

On Animal Welfare

  • 87 % believe the new Animal Welfare Act gives them greater powers to investigate allegations of poor welfare in farm animals
  • 87% think the use of improvement notices - as an alternative to costly enforcement action - are a useful tool
  • 78% say the proposal that local authorities will be able to enforce the Welfare of Livestock Regulations will make a contribution to improved welfare standards
  • 52% have carried out enforcement activity with other agencies since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act.
On Food Hygiene

  • 97% believe a visit to inspect animal health and welfare should be combined with a food hygiene inspection
  • 91% feel that raising awareness of potential hazards in premises would lead to improved food safety
  • 87% think the new regulations had increased their department's workload
  • 100% believe that a recent memorandum of understanding between the Local Authorities Coordinators on Regulatory Services (LACORS) and the Assured Food Standards (AFS) - the 'Red Tractor' quality assurance scheme - is a positive step towards a modern approach to enforcing the legislation.

'From these results it is apparent that trading standards services are enthusiastic in supporting the changes and genuinely believe that putting resources into this area of work will result in less risk for consumers,' said Mr Adams.

5m Editor