Quality Meat Scotland gets new inspection service

The assessment and certification services for what is considered to be the world’s longest running farm quality assurance scheme – Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) – will be carried out by SAOS from spring next year.

Alan Clarke, Quality Meat Scotland CEO
Alan Clarke, Quality Meat Scotland CEO

The hand-over to Scotland’s co-operative body from Lloyd’s Register, which currently provides the independent inspection service, is expected to begin in the new year, with SAOS fully taking over the contract from the beginning of April.

The changeover will affect QMS’s entire suite of assurance schemes - covering cattle and sheep, pigs, livestock haulage, auction markets and collection centres, processors and feeds.

Alan Clarke, QMS chief executive, said that from the farmer’s point of view it should be ‘business as usual’ for those due inspections during the transition period – and he hoped that many of the current band of 50 self-employed farm assessors would transfer over to SAOS.

“Scotland was the pioneer of red meat quality assurance and our schemes offer consumers in the UK and overseas the legal guarantee that the meat they buy has come from animals that have spent their whole lives being raised to some of the world’s strictest welfare standards,” said Clarke.

“Members will be kept up to date at every stage of the process and we look forward to working closely with SAOS to ensure the move is as smooth as possible.”

Clarke said that the move would ensure that employment and value added by the scheme – which currently undertakes assessments on around 10,000 farms each year– would be retained within Scotland.

He also indicated that it was intend that the assessment process would become less of a ‘box-ticking’ exercise and that the assessors carrying them out would be able to use their understanding of the industry to focus on animal welfare improvements – an area which Clarke said was likely to be of huge significance to retailers and consumers in the coming years.

The move is also being viewed as a new chapter in the scheme which pioneered farm assurance when it was set up in 1990 to provide industry and consumers with total assurance that all qualifying livestock met stringent production standards covering all aspects of animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environment.

Tim Bailey, chief executive with SAOS said that his organisation had evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of its co-op members, as well as the wider farming and food sector.

“Having recognised the vital need to add more value to our primary products and to identify and access new markets at home and abroad, we have created our Food Integrity Assurance business to support, develop and build on Scotland’s key credentials of truly sustainable food production that is climate-friendly and supportive of our unique rural environment.

He said the aim was to work closely with QMS and the red meat supply chain to ensure requirements for whole chain assurance were met to underpin the integrity of the premium Scotch and Specially Selected brands.

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