1. I am 28 years of age. I joined Midland Meat Packers 10 years ago. I have a BTEC Certificate in food technology.
2. My current position is that of Quality Assurance Manager.
3. The company has a Quality Control Department and there are currently two teams of three technicians.
4. There are two supervisors under me who are in charge of the two different shifts and these supervisors report directly to me.
5. My personal responsibilities are with process and technical development; the company constantly seeks to improve and expand the controls around the plant and outside it to ensure that the high standards of quality, hygiene and animal welfare set by the company are properly implemented and enforced.
6. In fulfilling my responsibilities I am frequently walking around the plant observing all processes with the objective of reviewing and upgrading them.
7. I have read the leaflet "What's Wrong with McDonald's?" and the allegations in the pleadings of the Defendants relating to slaughter and food poisoning. Have the following comments.
9. On arrival at the plant each and every animal is subject to an ante mortem inspection by the independent site Official Veterinary Surgeon ("OVS") who works on behalf of MAFF and together with a team of independent Local Authority Meat Inspectors, acts to ensure that all regulatory and statutory requirements are met, including those concerning animal welfare and hygiene. Cattle purchased from markets are subject to veterinary inspection and there will be representatives from the RSPCA present on most occasions. If following the Meat Inspectors examination it is found that cattle have been mistreated the Meat Inspector through the Local Authority may report this to MAFF who may in turn visit the farm to undertake a welfare audit. The OVS and Meat Inspectors are not company employees and are not paid by the company. They are Local Government officials.
10. Further the Meat Inspectors may issue Home Office cautions which are similar to police cautions if they find a farmer culpable of mistreatment.
11. The Meat Inspectors' most extreme sanction is to prosecute those responsible for abused animals in conjunction with the Training Standards Officers.
12. Therefore through the monitoring of the animals by the Meat Inspectors the company is able as far as it is possible to police the welfare of animals purchased by it.
13. Meat Inspectors are also responsible for checking the stunning equipment on a monthly basis which will be recorded and signed by the manager and senior meat inspectors. Checks are also required on the maintenance of stunning equipment and of the standards of the slaughtermen on a regular basis.
14. Whilst being held in the lairage all cattle have a supply of fresh clean water and are housed in such a manner to allow free movement and whenever possible are kept in their peer groups in order that stress is minimised. If animals are being kept overnight or over a weekend they are held in a covered holding yard. The holding yard has straw bedding and an ad lib supply of food and water; whilst in this area cattle are inspected by company staff who check for signs of sickness or distress as well as ensuring that their food and water supply is maintained.
15. When presenting animals for slaughter staff are required to move them in as quiet and calm a manner as is possible with the minimum use of sticks and goads; excessive use of sticks and goads is a breach of company rules and as such is subject to disciplinary action.
16. Stunning is carried out using a captive bolt; slaughtermen are trained by the company in the correct techniques to be applied when stunning cattle. All those involved directly in the slaughter of cattle are required to hold a licence issued by the Local Authority which is renewed on an annual basis. Those being trained to slaughter are required to work, under supervision, for a lengthy probationary period until the authorities are satisfied that a licence can be granted.
17. Animal welfare is also overseen by the site Animal Welfare Officer ("AWO"). His role is to ensure that all cattle are treated in a humane and stress-free manner in accordance with the numerous items of legislation and codes of practice governing the issue. I append to this statement at "TNC 1" examples of some of the literature provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food ("MAFF") which sets out the precautions that need to be taken to ensure that animals are treated as humanely as possible in the slaughter process.
18. The AWO is a person with 25 years experience of livestock procurement and has attended the Animal Welfare Officer Training Course run by the Animal Science Department of the University of Bristol.
19. Apart from the training received by the AWO, all persons responsible for the moving, transport, slaughter and loading and unloading of cattle are trained in their respective jobs. Appended to this statement at "TNC 2" are copies of the job analyses for the stun operator, guidelines for the safe loading and unloading and movement of cattle and animal welfare training provided to the relevant staff.
20. Whilst these guidelines and training documents are dated 1993 and 1992 respectively, the practice and procedures set out therein have always been company policy which was formalised into written training documents at those dates.
21. The company has its own training programmes and written working procedures for all jobs and, where relevant, these address animal welfare. For those involved in the handling of livestock, there is also an Animal Welfare Training Course which details procedures for unloading animals, moving animals, receiving animals into the lairage and presenting animals for stunning.
22. It should be noted that stress in a living animal has a direct effect on meat quality, causing beef to be "dark, firm and dry" ("DFD"). This condition seriously reduces the price at which the beef can be sold and therefore, quite apart from the moral issues, it is in the business interests of the company to ensure that the stress in animals is kept to an absolute minimum. It is because of the fact that stress in cattle can produce meat of inferior quality that I am concerned on the quality control side to ensure that the welfare of the animals is maintained at all times.
23. In addition to the standards of hygiene welfare and safety maintained by the company, the vast majority of customers, who include McKey Foods who supply McDonald's with hamburgers, have detailed specifications which require us to ensure that animal welfare and hygiene standards are maintained. These customers will inspect the plant and our systems on a regular basis and if their specifications and requirements are not being met they would inform us of this immediately.
24. I have read the report of Dr. Neville Gregory in which he describes the handling and slaughter process at Midland Meat Packers and confirm that the high standards observed by him during his visit are and have been consistently maintained by the company at all times since supplying McKey Foods.
25. Systems for the checking of the specification criteria include temperature and microbiological status exist and operate throughout the plant. Before being de-boned quarters are checked for any post-slaughter contamination.
26. Samples to assess the microbiological status of products are processed in the site Microbiology Laboratory. This laboratory processes around 100 samples per day both on products for despatch to manufacturers and on products which are to be further processed in house; microbiological analyses are also carried out on water used on site.
27. The bulk of the cleaning of production areas and machinery is carried out at night by cleaning staff employed by the company. Before starting work each morning the supervisor of each line or area is required to carry out detailed operational hygiene checks before they commence work. If any item, in the opinion of the supervisor, has not undergone correct cleaning and sterilisation it has to be clean prior to work commencing in that area. Each check is documented and returned to the hygiene supervisor every morning, a copy of which is also sent to the Duty Veterinarian to be checked and stamped. An independent pre-operational hygiene check is carried out each morning by one of the Local Authority Meat Inspectors.
28. As well as these quality visual checks, swabs to measure cleaning effectiveness are taken daily, in order to quantitatively assess the environmental hygiene of the plant.
29. All employees are required to take the Institute of Environmental Health Officers Basic Food Hygiene Certificate Examination.
30. A number of quality assurance checks are carried out on products throughout the plant, the nature of the checks being dependent upon the product type and customer specification. Checks carried out include analysis for fat content, temperature, ph, antibiotic residues, weight, bone and cartilage content, butchery quality, gas atmosphere (for CAP packs), and bar code quality to name but a few.
31. All production and storage areas at the plant are temperature controlled and all are constantly monitored and recorded using electronic equipment.
32. At despatch products are temperature checked and the thermostat of the refrigerator vehicle is set by laboratory QF staff and records are kept of these checks.
33. The most significant move by the company on hygiene and food safety issues in recent years is its decision to introduce and implement the highest level of food production system yet devised in its production lines - the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP system).
34. It will thus be seen that the standards of hygiene set, monitored and policed by the company are of the highest order and meet the stringent specifications and requirements required by our customers.
January 13, 1994|
Appeared in court|
exhibits: Not applicable/ available
transcripts of court appearances: