The number of meat processing plants operating under the revolutionary Australian Export Meat Inspection System continues to grow.
At last count, 45 plants across all Australian states have now moved across to the new company-administered meat inspection system since it was launched in October.
Beef Central heralded the arrival of the new process in its article “Ludwig launches new AQIS deal” on September 5.
The Federal Government, in honouring its part of the agreement with industry over the reforms, has begun rebating part of the cost of the Food Safety Meat Assessors (FSMA's) and the On-plant Vets for pork/game meat plants since November as part of the $25.8 million contribution to the transition. The 40pc rebate negotiated by the Australian Meat Industry Council against the July-September services provided by AQIS is expected to be issued shortly.
Meanwhile the momentum in interest in company-based meat inspection systems appears to be growing overseas.
As part of a ten-year pilot program in the US, 25 poultry plants have been operating under waivers that allow for fewer US Government Food Safety & Inspection Service inspectors on-plant, with company employees replacing FSIS inspectors to undertake certain duties on the chain.
This is a similar philosophy to that which operates under the AEMIS model in Australia, although AEMIS is said to have more objective performance standards.
FSIS estimates that full implementation of proposed rules to expand the program will allow more than 200 of the 300 federally-inspected poultry plants in the US to join the HIMP (HACCP-based Inspection Models Project).
Mirroring microbial food safety performance results seen in Australian’s AEMIS system, the HIMP program with company inspectors was shown to have lower rates of Salmonella than similarly-sized plants running under traditional HACCP programs.
The existing system of ‘organoleptic’ HACCP inspection with USDA employees checking for defects or visible signs of animal disease on carcases has been in place in the US since the late 1950s.