Any non-assured abattoir, cutting plant or meat processor based in England wishing to join the EBLEX Quality Standard Mark (QSM) Scheme should contact EBLEX to apply for a pre-audit.
The one-day visit, which is free of charge, will be carried out by EBLEX technical staff and will identify any non-conformances which may prevent accreditation to the QSM or another appropriate assurance scheme. It will highlight any potential gaps in the assessment standards, setting out a simple plan to resolve the issues before a full audit is undertaken with a certification body.
Steve Doe, managing director of a traditional wholesale and catering butchery business with an on-site cutting plant, recently undertook the pre-audit. He said: “The pre-audit was a very useful exercise and helped me to understand more about the benefits of becoming an assured processor. We benefited from advice such as how to consistently achieve optimum meat quality. It also meant we were able to avoid any additional costs which we may have otherwise incurred if we had failed the audit with a certification body.”
“Now that we have our Red Tractor Farm Assurance accreditation and are members of EBLEX’s Quality Standard Mark Scheme, we can confidently inform our customers about the quality of our beef and lamb. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of ‘food miles’ these days and traceability is a particularly important issue along with animal welfare. In-line with QSM Scheme guidelines, we operate a comprehensive and stringent ‘batch coding’ system which means all of our meat is fully traceable back to the farm”.
Steve adds: “Since becoming an assured member, we have also benefited from the marketing support provided by EBLEX. We recently hosted an open day to celebrate our assurance accreditation and the opening of our new butchery counter. EBLEX organised and ran cookery demonstrations at the event using our QSM beef and lamb for the visitors to try.
“The marketing literature provided helps us to share the QSM Scheme’s key messages of traceability, assurance and quality with our customers. We have also found the ongoing support and advice provided by the EBLEX team to be hugely beneficial.”
Laura Bishop, EBLEX marketing manager (Quality Schemes), said: “We introduced the free pre-auditing service to help businesses that would like to become assured highlighting any gaps which would otherwise see them fail the audit through one of the certification bodies. The pre-audit uses benchmarking criteria to map out any gaps and a plan is then put together to help them make the necessary changes.
“I’d urge any abattoir, cutting plant or meat processor that is considering an audit to contact us in the first instance to see how we can assist you. The benefits of being an appropriately Assured Meat Processor, which include increased market opportunities and eligibility to carry EBLEX Quality Standard Mark logos on your products, are there for the taking.”
EBLEX has a range of other services available to help abattoirs and suppliers improve meat quality, overall efficiency and profitability. For example, it can help identify potential market opportunities through full carcase utilisation, such as the export market for fifth quarter and animal by-products. It can also assist with the development of regional brands and new product development ideas. Further information can be found within a new leaflet ‘Services for the Abattoir Sector’, which can be downloaded from www.eblextrade.co.uk/developyourbusiness
For further information or to arrange a pre-audit, call the Quality Standard Mark Scheme Hotline: 0845 491 8787.
EBLEX is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
It exists to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English beef and lamb sector. Its aims are:
- To help the beef and sheep meat supply chain become more efficient
- To add value to the beef and sheep meat industry.
The EBLEX Trade Marketing team supports businesses throughout the retail and foodservice supply chains for beef and lamb. From abattoirs and processors to wholesalers, independent and multiple retailers and foodservice operators, we work with businesses to improve their operational effectiveness and assist with beef and lamb product development, marketing and promotion. Visit our website. Twitter. Facebook.