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UK revises veterinary rules in abattoirs as Brexit pressures mount

Screen Shot 2021-03-29 at 12.27.25 PM

Source: The Pig Site/Global Ag Media, 29 March 2021, photo credit: European Parliament

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council has approved proposals from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to allow temporary veterinary registrants to undertake Official Veterinarian (OV) work at slaughterhouses.

The RCVS Council has greenlit Defra’s proposals that would amend the rules on the RCVS Temporary Register, allowing those on it to undertake certain specific functions as Official Veterinarians (OVs).

The proposals from Defra were brought to the meeting of RCVS Council on Thursday 18 March 2021 by the Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss. They came in light of increased pressures on OV numbers and capacity following the UK’s exit from the European Union at the beginning of the year.

The key pressures on OV capacity, as set out in Defra’s proposals, were around the provision of veterinary surgeons employed by the Food Standards Agency to provide meat hygiene controls in abattoir settings with the agency anticipating “a severe shortage of OV capacity in abattoirs in England and Wales over the next six-to-twelve months”. Furthermore, Defra cited the “significant expansion of the requirement for export health certificates (EHCs)” for the export of animal and animal-derived products from Great Britain to both the EU and to Northern Ireland, as another reason for the proposals as EHCs require veterinary checks and sign-off.
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