Details of new Clean Livestock Policy for sheep announced

The Department of Agriculture has introduced a Clean Livestock Policy for sheep going to slaughter, similar to the one it has already for cattle.

The three-category system will require food business operators at slaughtering establishments to categorise sheep as either satisfactory, acceptable or unacceptable.

Sheep producers must recognise that the animals that they supply for slaughter are used for human consumption, Teagasc has said.

Therefore, they are food producers and have a role to play in presenting clean and dry animals for slaughter.

Food business operators at slaughtering establishments will be required to categorise sheep as follows:

Category (A) Satisfactory

These are sheep with a clean dry fleece that can be slaughtered, without an unacceptable risk of contaminating the meat during the slaughter process, by using the standard hygienic dressing procedures routinely employed by the plant.

Category (B) Acceptable

Sheep in this category are classified as having a moderate soiling of fleece that can only be slaughtered, without an unacceptable risk of contamination of the meat during the slaughter process, by putting in place additional interventions including extra defined dressing controls.

Category (C) Unacceptable

These are sheep with a heavily contaminated fleece unfit for slaughter. These sheep must not be presented for ante-mortem in this condition and it is the responsibility of the FBO to take the required remedial action.

Meat Industry Ireland has welcomed the publication of the new advice leaflets for farmers on presenting clean cattle and sheep for slaughter.

A spokesman for MII said that it has to raise awareness on the importance of presenting both cattle and sheep as clean as possible for slaughter.

This has implications for food safety, trade and the reputation of our sector. Farmers are food business operators and have an important role to play when it comes to the cleanliness of the livestock they are selling.

“Ensuring cleaner hides and fleeces on cattle and sheep presented for slaughter is important in reducing the contamination risk from harmful bacteria.”

He said that processing plants do everything possible to ensure hygienic preparation of the carcass in the plant and have adopted various new processes and techniques over the years to assist this.

However, if animals are not presented as clean as possible then the challenge and the risk is increased, he said.

“Everyone has an important role in the effective implementation of the CLP for cattle and sheep – farmers, hauliers, processors, Teagasc and the Department.”