QMS announces changes to pig assurance scheme standards

Quality Meat Scotland has announced a series of changes to its pig quality assurance scheme, including changes to how often inspections are carried out.

The changes will affect around 180 farmers in Scotland.

Over 90% of Scotland’s breeding cattle population, around 80% of breeding sheep and almost 100% of significant pig farming businesses are members of QMS farm assurance schemes.

The standards behind the six QMS quality assurance schemes – which also cover cattle and sheep, feeds, haulage, auction markets and processors – are reviewed regularly and updated annually to ensure continuous improvements are made to keep pace with legislative, technical and other changes.

Membership of the pigs standards review committee includes representatives from relevant areas of the industry including farming, processing and auction markets as well as the Scottish SPCA.

A summary of key changes to the document is provided with the updated standards.

One change includes an amendment to assessment frequency. Existing members can now expect an assessment a maximum of every 12 months, depending on the category awarded after review of their assessment report and subsequent certification decision.

The transition for those previously in the higher categories (15 and 18 months) will be phased in gradually for their next assessment, to ease in the transition and avoid any surges in assessment delivery.

Another change is in response to the current situation with Covid-19. Where on-site veterinary presence is required to comply with any of the new changes, a dispensation will be in place to ensure continued compliance. Assessors will discuss this with members during their assessment.

Another includes ensuring a documented procedure is in place for euthanasia at all stages and farmers must also include a site plan showing all housing and handling areas.

Kathryn Kerr, head of brands integrity at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said: “The Scottish pig industry enjoys a worldwide reputation for high standards of production.

“Our industry’s whole-chain assurance underpins the integrity of the Specially Selected Pork brand and provides reassurance to consumers and retailers of provenance and high standards of animal welfare and wellbeing.”