Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) information package

​Version 10

The Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) is an integrated set of controls specified and verified by Government that ensure the safety, suitability and integrity of Australian meat and meat products. Underpinning AEMIS are objective hygiene and performance standards which are continually monitored.

A Department of Agriculture (department) veterinarian is responsible for ante-mortem inspection and verification of post-mortem inspection and processor hygiene practices.

Post-mortem inspection is delivered either by department officials called Food Safety Meat Assessors (FSMAs) or Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs). The latter are employed by the establishment or by an independent AAO employer, to satisfy importing market requirements for Australian Government health certification. Where establishment management elect to use AAOs during a shift to conduct inspection, the management may choose to employ AAOs through independent AAO employers for specific runs and revert to company AAOs for other runs.

AAOs are legally bound to the department to perform inspections in accordance with a detailed set of departmental controlled instructions. A FSMA will assist the veterinarian in performing verification activities. An additional roving FSMA will be available for facilities with a larger verification workload. FSMAs and AAOs are subject to ongoing performance verification against national performance standards and the results are recorded in a national database. Where AAOs perform post-mortem inspection on cattle, sheep and goat establishments, all carcases are subject to assessment by a FSMA.

The Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (AS4696) requires that a suitably qualified meat safety inspector performs post-mortem inspection and make decisions on each carcase and its carcase parts (any tissue or structure removed from a carcase and includes head, viscera and blood).

AAOs are bound to the department through a ‘Deed of Obligations’, have appropriate qualifications and must be assessed as capable prior to being appointed to the position of an Australian Government Authorised Officer.

Under AEMIS meat safety inspectors (AAOs and FSMAs) performing post-mortem duties must have a MTM30307/MTM30311 Certificate III in Meat Processing (Meat Safety) qualification and attain a MTM 40211 Certificate IV Meat Processing (Meat Safety) qualification within 12 months of appointment.

An additional option exists for pig establishments, where an establishment may elect to utilise AAOs for ante-mortem inspection in which, stockmen must have attained specified units of competency in their MTM30311 Certificate III in Meat Processing (Meat Safety) qualification.

Establishments may choose to utilise staff in a training capacity prior to becoming an AAO. If this is the case, an individual may gain practical experience in the AAO role on the chain providing the following is in place:

  • there is an appointed AAO at each existing inspection point undertaking formal inspection and disposition of all carcase and carcase parts and
  • the trainee AAO is under the direct supervision of that AAO and is not making a sole disposition on carcase and carcase parts and
  • all inspection and decisions pertaining to the inspection process on carcase and carcase parts are made by the AAO, FSMA or OPV if/as required.

Processors continue to be responsible for the hygienic operations of their facilities. Their ability to operate hygienically is verified though assessment against department performance standards with the results being recorded in a national database.

Independent Employers of AAOs

Independent employers of AAOs who enter into contracted with an export registered establishments to satisfy market access requirements must be accredited under the Independent Employer of AAOs Accreditation Scheme (Scheme).

All accredited independent employers of AAOs will be included on the approved Independent AAO Employer Schedule.

Any export registered abattoir seeking EU listing from 1 October 2014 must ensure they comply with EU requirements, including the use of AAOs.All current export registered abattoirs with EU listing must ensure they comply with EU requirements by 1 November 2014, including the use of AAOs.

The Scheme will be certified against ISO/IEC 17020:2012, by engaging Australian registered National Accreditation bodies to evaluate independent employers of Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs) against ISO/IEC 17020:2012 as a means of increasing overseas competent authority confidence.

Independently employed AAOs may be used on an export establishment and may also be used to supply all AAOs required at any export establishment.

Further information on the Accreditation of Independent Employers of AAO Scheme can be accessed on the Export Meat program Independent Employer of AAOs Accreditation Scheme webpage.

Australian Government Authorised Officers

Appointment of AAOs is through an application process.

Pre-application

The department recommends that the management representative emails the AAO Coordinator to indicate they will be seeking appointment of AAO(s). A checklist will be returned to assist in the collation of evidence to provide the department.

Employers may choose to progress nationally recognised Cert III/IV and/or AAO induction training while the applicant is obtaining evidence to provide with the application form. The requirements of the application process may take approximately two months to complete. (NB starting training early will allow overall process to be as short as possible.)

Employers should consider pre-screening applicants for appointment to minimise unnecessary training if the AAO applicant does not meet department criteria as laid out in the application form. 

Application Form

An application form to be an AAO must be completed and submitted:

Qualifications

Refer to section 2 of the document, Information about the Australian Government Authorised Officer Application Process, for details of required qualifications which be accepted by the department.

Deed of Obligations

The AAO Deed of Obligations must be explained to the applicant by a departmental senior regional officer prior to its signing. The signed deed, along with the application form, must be returned to the AAO Coordinator, Food Division, Canberra. The deed includes a requirement that AAOs comply with the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct. Applicants should take time to consider the deed and only sign the deed after it has been explained to them by a department senior regional officer.

Nominees are strongly encouraged to keep their own copy of the Deed of Obligations.

Australian Federal Police National Police Check

A recently issued (i.e. dated within 30 days) Australian Federal Police National Police Check is required.

Instructional Material (post-mortem)

Departmental Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions for the conduct of post-mortem inspection must be followed.  This Instructional Material is available from the establishment OPV or departmental regional staff.

A species specific capability assessment, against current departmental Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions on conducting post-mortem inspection, will be provided by a nominated departmental veterinary officer.

Information and training sessions

All applicants must attend AAO training before they will be appointed as an AAO. Training will be organised by the establishment and provided by Registered Training Organisations (RTO) for all aspects of AAO responsibilities other than the Deed of Obligations.

Further information about the deed and AAO induction training can be obtained by contacting their nearest Department of Agriculture Director – Food Inspection Services.

Numbers required

The number of AAOs required on any single shift must be sufficient to ensure post-mortem inspection performance standards are met. It is an establishment responsibility to have enough AAOs available to cover all forms of leave, absenteeism and training and meet post-mortem performance standards.

Identification

AAOs are required to wear a uniform with white shirt, trousers and coat (where applicable). The uniform includes boots and white head covering, which comply with the establishment's hygiene and occupational health and safety policies, and an apron where required.

All shirts and coats must be identified with the words 'Australian Government Authorised Officer' in black lettering embroidered or otherwise permanently applied to the clothing on one breast so that it will be visible even if an apron is worn. The uniform must only be worn while official inspection is being performed.

AAOs will be issued with an identification card which must be readily available upon a departmental officer's request.

Work Health and Safety

All parties are legally bound by the appropriate Work Health and Safety legislation in their state or territory.

Abattoir owners or operators responsibility
The Abattoir owners or operators are responsible for ensuring safe entry/exit, facilities, operating environment etc for both AAO’s and the department’s officer(s).

Department of Agriculture’s responsibility
AAO’s work under the control or at the direction of the department’s officer(s), then duty of care provisions apply; that is, the department’s officer(s) must ensure that the AAO’s work methods, protective equipment (if any) and any other task-related duties comply with the department’s health & safety provisions.

The department’s officer(s) must take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

Independent AAO Employer’s responsibility
The employer has the responsibility for ensuring appropriate health & safety provisions are in place and followed.

AAO’s responsibility
The AAO must take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

The AAO will conform to any workplace health and safety procedures required by the company. Whether or not protective equipment interferes with inspection will be determined by compliance with the post-mortem inspection performance standards.

Approved arrangement

Relationship with the Company

The establishment's approved arrangement must specify that:

  1. The AAO is responsible to the department for the performance of their official function; and
  2. Company staff will support and/or not interfere with the AAO in the performance of their official function, and
  3. The establishment shall not compromise or be perceived to compromise the duties of the AAO while performing official functions, and
  4. the establishment will not permit any employee to perform official inspection duties unless they have been appointed as an AAO and are wearing the required uniform

Other activities

AAOs may perform other work along with post-mortem inspection as long as the duties associated with the official function take priority over this other work and the post-mortem inspection performance standards are met. The establishment's work instruction related to this additional work must be approved by the department within the approved arrangement.

Post-mortem verification

Product and procedure

The verification of post-mortem inspection against post-mortem inspection performance standards is conducted by a departmental veterinarian who may be assisted by a FSMA. Verification assesses both inspection procedures and inspected product in a defined, random sample of production. The Post Mortem Verification instructional material defines non-compliance and outline action taken where non-compliance is detected.

Carcase-by-carcase assessment

Carcase-by-carcase assessment will be undertaken by a FSMA in accordance with departmental work instructions.

Carcase assessment stations

The station for 'carcase-by-carcase' assessment must meet the requirements for an inspection station. A rise and fall platform or multi height platform may be required.

Facilities need to be provided include:

  • adequate space to perform the carcase assessment
  • Minimum of 600 lux lighting on all surfaces of the carcase that is to be assessed
  • A stand that enables the FSMA to see the mid level of the carcase at eye level (as this is not a detailed inspection process, from this stand the FSMA should be able to see the rump on large carcases as the side is turned and also see the fore quarter)
    • If the Meat Hygiene Assessment (MHA) is to be undertaken while the FSMA or OPV is on the stand, this can only be done when it is safe to do so.
    • The stand may be used by the MHA personnel of the company after negotiation and agreement with the departmental regulatory team on plant.
  • Hand wash facilities.
  • A sterilizer unit to facilitate hygienic trimming of pathology, faeces and ingesta by a company trimmer to remove the material if required from the carcase.
  • A chain stop button. The FSMA/OPV should not be using a knife hence when an issue such as pathology or faeces is identified then it is up to the company to have it corrected.
  • A clipboard/lectern (the FSMA/OPV will be capturing data and would therefore require somewhere to place the data sheets to write on - there may also need to be some hooks for storage of ECA 4 tags etc).The final approval of the facility may require a workplace health and safety assessment. This may be decided by the Area Technical Manager (ATM) after an establishment inspection, or by the FSMA/OPV after commencing use of the inspection stand.

Departmental requirements at on plant facilities

Amenities

The department requires sufficient amenities to comply with Schedule 3 of the Export Control (Meat and Meat Product) Orders. Further guidance can be found in the Construction and Equipment Guidelines for Export Meat Establishments.

National data capture

Audit management system

All verification information is recorded by the Department of Agriculture on plant and streamlines entry of company Key Performance Indicator (KPI) data.

Product Hygiene Indicators (PHI)

Processors must continue to submit PHI data to the Department of Agriculture to allow analysis and reporting of PHI data and calculation of the Product Hygiene Indicators.

Verification work load

The various departmental verification tasks currently being undertaken have been reviewed.  Some have been removed whilst others (such as post-mortem verification) have been added.  Tasks that have been removed include 'check the checker' for product and processing on the slaughter floor, offal room, boning room, and load-out/in. 'Check the checker' for the various microbiological sampling programs and for carton meat assessment has been retained. 

Plant implementation timetable/checklist

Please find attached a timetable/checklist (Attachment 1) of issues to be addressed prior to transitioning to the use of AAOs. It is intended to assist both the company and the department with planning for this transition. If it has not already been done, the checklist needs to be completed as accurately as possible then returned to departmental regional staff to allow resourcing issues to be identified and planned for. 


Attachment 1:

Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) Implementation Timetable/Checklist for establishments using AAOs

Establishment Name: 

Establishment Number: 

Date of form completion:

Item

Mandatory

Proposed Completion Date

Approved arrangement additional clauses

Y

 

Approved arrangement additional tasks

Optional

 

AAO Application form(s) and associated documents

Y

 

Uniforms

Y

 

AAO training (Registered Training Organisations)

Y

 

AAO information about Deed of Obligations (Department/Interactive)

 

 

PHI data submission: current version

Y

 

PHI data submission: carton testing

Y (6 months)

 

Amenities (if the occupier wishes to reclaim space)

Optional

 

Assessment stand/area

Y

 

 

AAO Qualifications

Mandatory

Proposed Completion Date

Total number of AAOs required for plant

 

 

Number enrolled in certificate III

 

 

Number of certificate III

 

 

Number of certificate III enrolled in certificate IV

 

 

Number of certificate IV

 

 

Forms


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