Proposals to charge meat processing plants the full cost of hygiene inspections could wipe out small and medium-sized abattoirs, the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers has claimed.

The FSA has proposed that the Meat Hygiene Service should move towards full cost recovery as a cash-saving measure.

AIMS warned that a small contract slaughter plant could expect its inspection costs to rise from £10,000 to £77,500 per year.

"Everything the government is telling us about its desire for more high-quality local and regional meat will be destroyed if we lose these facilities," said AIMS policy director Norman Bagley.