UK beef and lamb processors prepare to enter US market

UK beef and lamb processors have been gearing up for inspections that could allow them export to the US.

EBLEX is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and has been helping ensure the industry is in the strongest position possible should a trade agreement be reached between the UK and the US for beef and lamb.

It has worked with the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), the Devolved Administrations and other red meat levy bodies to organise a series of USDA-style advisory inspections of processing plants. The aim was to help processors fully understand the level of detailed information required by the USDA to help negotiate market access and gain approval for export of ruminant material to the US in the future.

As part of the visits, inspections were carried out at 10 plants across the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to establish and compare official meat hygiene controls and processing standards to ensure they fully comply with the USDA import needs. The mock inspections have confirmed that the preparations by plants are on track for the USDA inspection expected early next year.

Dr Phil Hadley, EBLEX head of supply chain development, said that while the UK does not currently have access to the US market for ruminant meat, it was prudent to ensure our industry is as fully prepared as possible. “We anticipate an official inspection visit in early 2015 and this will hopefully enable access should an agreement be reached.

“EBLEX, working in partnership with other key stakeholder organisations, has taken the lead in terms of understanding the market. With an official inspection visit anticipated soon, it’s important to ensure we put ourselves in the best possible position and are fully aware of the level of detail the USDA needs in place to help us gain access to the US market.”

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