HC Deb 15 June 1999 vol 333 cc122-3W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how the word veterinaire is being interpreted by his Department, with respect to the enforcement of EU hygiene directives; [86471]

(2) what training (a) environmental health officers and (b) meat inspectors would require to enable them to supervise meat hygiene inspections. [86472]

Mr. Rooker

EU meat hygiene rules lay down specific requirements about the level and frequency of supervision of licensed meat plants. Such functions are assigned to "official veterinarians", defined in those rules asthe veterinarian designated by the central competent authority of the Member State". Although the EU meat hygiene rules do not define "veterinarian", the EU Directives on the mutual recognition of veterinary qualifications and on veterinary training (78/1026/EEC and 78/1027/EEC) clearly define veterinarians in terms of named qualifications for each member state (which other member states must recognise) and in terms of the subjects that their veterinary courses must have covered and the length of training.

Given the aim of the EU meat hygiene rules (namely, to prescribe minimum standards of health inspections in licensed meat plants) and the functions allocated to official veterinarians under those rules, my Department takes the view that references in those rules to "official veterinarian" must be construed consistently with the EU rules on veterinary qualifications. In short, an "official veterinarian" for meat hygiene purposes must be a veterinarian whose veterinary qualifications meet the terms of the relevant Directives. As such, environmental health officers and meat inspectors would be eligible to supervise meat hygiene inspections only if they were also fully qualified veterinarians.