The British meat industry could be hit with two separate increases in the charges it pays for meat hygiene services in 2009, prompting further misery in the wake of soaring input costs. The weakness of the pound means that from January, some meat hygiene charges will rise as they are bought into line with charges across the EU. The UK must implement increases to comply with EU legislation that lays down minimum charges across EU member states.

The news comes as the FSA continues its consultation with the industry over its own suggested changes to meat hygiene charges. The FSA has, however, stressed that the consultation will ask the industry how EU increases can be taken into account.

“We are actively seeking the industry’s views on how we might modify our charging proposals for 2009/10 to take account of these increases,” said FSA chief executive Tim Smith.

It is unclear whether hygiene cost increases would translate through to higher prices on shelf, but the British Meat Processors Association called for the FSA, Defra and devolved administrations to ensure the impact of the EU changes was not compounded by the FSA proposals.

“It is vital the FSA takes the consultation responses seriously and does not simply pay lipservice to the process,” said BMPA director Stuart Roberts.

Meanwhile, the European Commission last week adopted a proposal designed to improve slaughterhouse animal welfare across Europe, requiring each slaughterhouse to have a designated individual responsible for the welfare of animals.