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Monday, 9 August 1999
Page: 7086


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 9 June 1999:

(1) Is the meat works at Rockdale (establishment 517) the first plant to participate in the Australian Meat Safety Enhancement Program (MSEP); if so, when were the new arrangements put in place at that plant.

(2) How many Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) officers and how many company employees engaged in inspection procedures were employed at the plant prior to the introduction of the MSEP.

(3) How many AQIS officers and company employees engaged in inspection services are employed at the plant after the introduction of the MSEP.

(4) What are the savings from the new inspection arrangements to the plant operator.

(5) How much product processed at establishment 517 was condemned over the 24-month period leading up to the introduction of the MSEP.

(6) How much product has been condemned at this establishment since the introduction of the MSEP.

(7) Did the plant operator lodge a complaint with AQIS about the condemnation of product prior to the introduction of the MSEP; if so: (a) what was the basis of the complaint; and (b) what action did AQIS take as a result of the complaint.

(8) Did the plant operator lodge a complaint with AQIS about the condemnation of product after the introduction of the MSEP; if so: (a) what was the basis of the complaint; and (b) what action did AQIS take as a result of the complaint.


Senator Alston (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) No Australian plant has commenced operations under the Meat Safety Enhancement Program. Rockdale is expected to be one of the first plants to adopt MSEP sometime during July/August.

(2) Under the existing inspection requirements, AQIS employs two meat inspectors and one veterinary officer for each shift at the Rockdale plant. No company employees are engaged in inspection procedures.

(3) After MSEP is implemented, AQIS would retain one meat inspector and one veterinary officer per shift. The company will employ two persons with meat inspection qualifications, per shift, to undertake the sorting function.

(4) The motivation for developing MSEP has been to enhance food safety outcomes. The move towards HACCP-based inspection has required a considerable investment by the meat industry. The issue of cost savings has thus been a secondary consideration. AQIS has no information available about the costs to the company from the new inspection arrangements.

(5) From July 1997 to June 1999, there have been 308 carcases condemned at Rockdale

(6) The company is not yet operating under MSEP.

(7) Plant management at Rockdale raised the condemnation of some carcase parts by an AQIS inspector. This matter was resolved at the plant level with the AQIS veterinarian reporting the outcome of his investigation to the Area Office in Sydney. The review by the plant veterinarian confirmed that the decision taken by the inspector was correct and no action by AQIS was necessary.

(8) The company is not yet operating under MSEP.