4 Dec 1994
Appeared in court
In the witness' capacity as a veternary surgeon and specialist on red meat hygiene, we are provided with an extremely detailed account of discrepencies which were manifest in the abbatoir in which she was employed and which supplied McDonalds, and the failure to fulfill the companies own standards and requirements.
WHAT'S YOUR POISON?
MEAT is responsible for 70% of all food-poisoning incidents, with chicken and minced meat (as used in burgers) being the worst offenders. When animals are slaughtered, meat can be contaminated with gut contents, faeces and urine, leading to bacterial infection in their animals, farmers routinely inject them with doses of antibiotics. These, in addition to growth-promoting hormone drugs and pesticide residues in their feed, build up in the animals' tissues and can further damage the health of people on a meat-based diet.
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Available for this witness
- I am a veterinary surgeon with a speciality in red meat hygeine. I
have worked in several large EC approved export abbatoirs in
Finland, Botswana and the UK.
- In April 1994 I worked for a month as an Official Veterinary
Surgeon at Alec Jarret Ltd. in Kingswood Borough Council in
- Alec Jarrett Ltd. is a high throughput EC approved export abbatoir
and cutting plant and supplies raw material for hamburger patties
for McKey Food Services Limited. During my working period at
Alec Jarrett Ltd the plant supplied McKey Food Services Ltd with
an average of 20,000 lbs of beef cuttings per week. All
consignments at the time were destined for the plant in Milton
- I have read the statement given by Mr. Walker concerning the
standards required by McKey Food Services Ltd from their
suppliers and am also familiar with their Raw Material
Specification. Surprisingly these documents were not made
available for me when I worked at Alec Jarrett Ltd.
- Whilst the requirements and specifications are commendable and
fulfil most requirements for good animal welfare and food hygiene
in my opinion, I would like to question the way McKey food
services Ltd supervises these specifications.
- I would also like to take up the following areas where the practices at Alec Jarrett Ltd were in direct controversy with the McKey Food
Services Ltd's Raw Material Specification and with the
requirements mentioned in Mr. Walker's statement.
- Alec Jarrett Ltd has no laboratory at the premises, neither
does it use the services of any outside laboratory. (point 45 in
Mr. Walker's statement).
- There is no sampling programme for the detection of E. coli
0157:H2 at Alec Jarrett Ltd. (Point 3. in the Addendum to
McKey Boneless Beef Specification)
- The boning temperatures of the meat in the boning hall at
Alec Jarrett Ltd. were as a rule well above +7 C (Point 2.3 in
the Raw Material Specification).
- There was no system to identify the ages of the cows in the
boning hall to prevent too old cow meat entering the McKey
consignments (Point 39. in Mr. Walker's statement).
- In addition to the above mentioned points I would like to further
state that in spite of being an EC approved abbatoir and cutting
plant Alec Jarrett Ltd was operating under conditions that are a far
cry of the EC legislation standards and was allowed to do so by the
Inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture on conditions that
extensive improvements be made in the near future. It was obvious
from the past correspondence between the previous Official
Veterinary Surgeon, the plant management and the MAFF officials
that this unacceptable situation concerning the hygiene standards
and the structural deficiencies had been prevalent for several years.
I will list here only a few of the practices and structural deficiencies
directly in controversy with the EC requirements as laid down in
The Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992.
This list is by no means exhaustive but serves to point out the fact
that Alec Jarrett Ltd. was by no means operating at the EC approved
standards referred to by Mr. Walker in his statement. This failure to
follow the required standards should have been clear to any quality
control inspector visiting the plant.
- The slaughterhouse and the cutting premises operated with a
considerable overcapacity causing the meat to be cut and
dispatched at temperatures higher than required (+7 C) leading
to an added risk of contamination and bacterial growth.
- No hygiene checks or quality control measures were carried out
at the premises and my suggestions to set up a surface swab programme
were met with strong resistance.
- There was no proper separation between the "dirty"
and the "clean" side of the slaughterhouse leading to a
considerable risk from airborne contamination of the dressed
- Throughout the plant there was a shortage of facilities for
disinfection of hand tools and knives leading to contamination
of the carcasses and meat.
- There was no separate, chilled detention room for condemned
or detained carcasses. This often lead to a situation where
detained carcasses were kept in the same chillers with carcasses
that had past the inspection. This practice easily leads to either
contact or airborne contamination.
- The carcasses were washed with high pressure water before
the inspection. This practice is dangerous as it can lead to the
inspectors missing pathological changes and leads to airborne
- The chillers were as a rule overfilled this leading to contact
contamination and preventing proper chilling of the carcasses.
- I would like to further express my surprise at the total lack of
communication on behalf of McKey Food Services Ltd with the
Official Veterinary Surgeon's office and could find no copies of the
McKey Food Services' Raw Material Specifications or other form of
- In addition to the above I would like to clarify my present position
in relation to Alec Jarrett Ltd. I was dismissed by my employer, the
veterinary meat hygeine practice Eville and Jones of 36 Market
Place, Bolsover, after a month's working period. My dismissal was a
culmination of severe pressure put on me both by my employer and
the management of the plant to sign export certificates without the
necessary back-up documentation to ensure that the animals came
from BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) free holdings as
required by the importing countries. In spite of the fact that both the
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and The Ministry of
Agriculture backed my point of view in the argument the dismissal
- I would like to take the opportunity to explain the present system of
veterinary meat inspection at EC approved abbatoirs and meat
plants to clarify my position. The local authorities are responsible
for the meat inspection services at the abbatoirs and meat plants in
their area. They normally do not employ veterinary surgeons to
perform the work but tender the work out on a contract basis to
local veterinary practices or specialised meat hygiene practices like
Eville and Jones. The veterinary practice then employs a veterinary
surgeon to carry out the veterinary work necessary at the plant. The
contracts are often short term contracts.
- My employer implied to me that they risked loosing the contract
with the Kingswood District Council, where Alec Jarrett Ltd is
situated, if I insisted on the proper certification procedure and felt
that they had to let me go. This was all that was said at the time of
my dismissal. Later, when my employer realised that I had taken the
matter up with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, I was sent
a letter giving other reasons for my dismissal.
- Since my dismissal I have been in contact with both the Royal
College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Ministry of Agriculture and
the whole bone-in beef export certification procedure is under their
consideration. The president of the Royal College, Mr. Neil King,
has endorsed my action fully and his statement to that effect is
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