Small butchers and abattoir operators are trying to revive the controversy over slaughtering charges, hoping to persuade the Government it must protect the little plants by switching to a throughput-based inspection levy system as recommended by its Task Force which reported months ago. On Thursday [October 12] the independents' trade ssociation attempted to publicise its case with customer petitions. But some others in the industry reckoned its timing ill judged. One problem is the BSE inquiry report, which when published later this month will remind consumers of former weaknesses in meat plant hygiene controls and could provoke opposition to any apparent relaxation of the inspection regime. Perhaps the more frustrating dilemma for the authorities is surplus capacity in the slaughtering sector. Large operators want the system to retain its financial bias as a way of forcing out medium sized abattoirs, while campaigners for change say the redundant capacity is in the big plants dependent on supermarket business. {{MEAT }}

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