Catalogue description Records created or inherited by the Food Standards Agency

Details of KM
Reference: KM
Title: Records created or inherited by the Food Standards Agency

Records of the Food Standards Agency, and of the Meat Hygiene Service, an executive agency of the Food Standards Agency.

Annual reports of the Meat Hygiene Service are in KM 1.

Meat Hygiene Service Senior Management Team minutes and papers are in KM 15.

Meat Hygiene Service Meat Hygiene Service Board: minutes and papers are in KM 18.

Food Standards Agency:

  • EU and UK Food Law Policy Matters (LSB series) are in KM 19.
  • Food Standards Agency: Food Labelling, Legal Requirements and Regulations (LSA series) are in KM 20.
  • EU and Food Law Policy files (LSC series): KM 21.
  • Food Labelling, Composition and Quality (LSD series): KM 22.

For series created for regularly archived websites, please see the separate Websites Division.

Date: 1996-2021
Related material:

Earlier files on food standards issues, including meat hygiene, may be found within the MAF, MH and FD lettercodes




Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Food Standards Agency, 2000-

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Food Science Division, 1972-1995

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Meat Hygiene Service, 1995-2000

Physical description: 48 series
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

from 1996 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Meat Hygiene Service

Administrative / biographical background:

Food Standards Agency (FSA)

The Food Standards Agency is an independent Government department set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect public health and consumer interests in relation to food. It was established in April 2000 under the Food Standards Act 1999, which provides for it to be a UK body accountable through health ministers to the Westminster Parliament and, through the respective devolved authorities to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales and the Northern Ireland assembly. However, it operates at arm's length from ministers, and is entitled to publish its advice to government.

The Agency took over a number of functions formerly carried out by Department of Health and MAFF and the devolved administrations. The main functions and responsibilities of the FSA at outset were:

  • the development of policy and legislation relating to microbiological, chemical and radiological safety of food;
  • Novel foods (including GM food);
  • Nutrition and public health;
  • Food labelling and standards;
  • Aspects of animal health relating to safety of food (i.e. animal feed).

Meat Hygiene Service

The Meat Hygiene Service was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the Food Standards Agency on the latter's creation.

Prior to 1995, meat inspection was carried out by local authorities under the supervision of the Meat Hygiene Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. This meant that there were inconsistencies in inspection standard: for instance, not all meat was inspected before it left the slaughterhouse. The Verdon-Smith report on carcass meat distribution and marketing had raised the issue of a single organisation with responsibility for meat inspection in 1964, and the matter was looked at again by the Ministry in 1985.

Following changes to European Union regulations governing slaughter houses, it was decided that the existing system of control was innappropriate and that a new national meat hygiene service should be formed to work to agreed European standards. Under the supervision of the Meat Hygiene Division, the new Meat Hygiene Service executive agency (MHS) was formed in April 1995, to take over the work of the local authorities. With its headquarters based in York, the Service has regional offices in Wales and Scotland and in the English regions (at Cambridge, Taunton, Wolverhampton and York), and maintains meat hygiene inspectors and vets, mostly former local authority staff and contractors transferred directly to the new organisation, at every slaughter house in the country. The Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland continues to operate its own system there.

The MHS was first established as an executive agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 1 April 1995; it was transferred to become an agency of the Food Standards Agency from 1 April 2000.

The Service is organised into four divisions under a Chief Executive. IT, Human Resources and Finance Divisions provide central services to the Service, and also support such operational aspects as the computerised monthly reports of slaughter house operations and payments to contract veterinarians. An Operations Division consisting of a Hygiene Advice Team and the regional offices conduct the day-to-day operations of the organisation.

MHS is also responsible for various control measures to counter the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and to prevent BSE infected meat products entering the human food chain. These include the enforcement of controls on staining of specified bovine offal and its proper disposal. There are two aid schemes to assist farmers unable to sell their cattle because of BSE (the EU Calf Premium Scheme and the Over 30 Months Bovine Scheme), and the disposal of cattle under these schemes is monitored by MHS. MHS is also involved with some intervention buying of beef.

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