Australian Export Meat Inspection System information package

Version 13

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

A departmental On Plant Veterinarian (OPV) is responsible for ante-mortem inspection and verification of post-mortem inspection and processor hygiene practices.

The Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (AS 4696) requires that a suitably qualified meat safety inspector performs post-mortem inspection and makes decisions on each carcase and its carcase parts (any tissue or structure removed from a carcase and includes, for example, the head, viscera offal and blood).

Regulatory inspection activities are 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 a department approved provider, to satisfy importing country requirements for Australian Government health certification.

Establishments may choose to utilise employees of their company or employees of a department approved provider in an ‘on the job’ trainee capacity prior to them seeking appointment as an authorised officer by the department. If this is the case, an individual may gain practical experience in an authorised officer role providing the following is in place:

  • there is an appointed authorised officer at each existing inspection point undertaking formal inspection and disposition; and
  • the trainee authorised officer is under the direct supervision of that authorised officer and is not making a sole disposition; and
  • all inspection and decisions pertaining to the inspection process are made by the AAO, FSMA or OPV if/as required; and
  • if applicable, the AAO is, solely and directly employed by a departmental approved independent service provider prior to working on meat and meat products intended for the EU market.

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.
FSMAs and AAOs are subject to ongoing performance verification against national performance standards as provided in department instructional material and the results are recorded in a national database. Where establishment management elect to use AAOs to conduct inspection, the management may choose to employ AAOs through independent AAO employers for specific shifts and revert to company AAOs for other shifts.
AAOs are legally bound to the department to perform inspections in accordance with a detailed set of departmental controlled instructions.

AEMIS Options

Red meat AEMIS

Under AEMIS meat safety inspectors (AAOs and FSMAs) performing post-mortem duties must have a Certificate III in Meat Processing (Meat Safety) qualification issued within the past 5 years and attain a Certificate IV Meat Processing (Meat Safety) qualification within 12 months of appointment.

A. Traditional post-mortem inspection   (FSMA)

This option involves meat inspection by Food Safety Meat Assessors (FSMA) where the department provides resources for post mortem inspection and final disposition on all carcases and carcase parts. This includes Meat Inspection Staffing Standard (MISS) assessments for throughput and staffing. This AEMIS option relates to the establishment using only FSMA’s for the undertaking of inspection activities.  Note, as part of the meat modernisation program, establishments will no longer be able to avail themselves of this option from September 2021. The department rather will only provide an officer to undertake inspection activities where it is a requirement of an importing country.

B.   AAO post-mortem inspection

The AAO(s) provides post-mortem inspection and final disposition on all carcases and carcase parts under department veterinary (OPV) supervision.

  • There is a FSMA on the end of each chain providing carcase by carcase assessment.
  • There are no MISS requirements under this model and the department does not prescribe how many AAOs are required to undertake post mortem inspection.
  • The OPV verifies post mortem inspection performed by the AAO.

Where verification of post-mortem inspection identifies a non-compliance in the process, increased verification may need to be implemented

C. Variations

  • The FSMA may be in the carcase post-mortem inspection position. Where this occurs, MISS requirements will apply to all inspection positions including AAO’s.
  • Establishments processing two species may choose a One-FSMA post-mortem Inspection option  on one species and an AAO post-mortem inspection on the other as a viable option for implementing AEMIS.
  • Establishments with a double shift may choose a One-FSMA post-mortem inspection option  shift on one and an AAO shift on the other.
  • Establishments processing lamb and mutton as part of the same production chain may choose the position where the FSMA be positioned (ie. At the carcase point or end of chain).  The FSMA when used in the carcase post-mortem inspection position will require MISS requirements to apply to all inspection positions including AAO’s.  An example is FSMA in the carcase position for lamb processing and then at the end of the chain for mutton processing.
  • Where either of the above variations is adopted AAOs and FSMAs are not interchangeable, i.e. the establishment is responsible for the provision of AAOs and the department for the provision of FSMAs.

Pork AEMIS

An additional option exists for pig establishments, where an establishment may elect to utilise authorised officers called Porcine Ante-Mortem Inspectors (PAMIs)  to conduct ante-mortem inspection, whereby stockperson  must have attained specified units of competency as part of completing their Certificate III in Meat Processing (General/Livestock handling/Meat Safety) qualification.

A.   One Food Safety Meat  Assessor  (FSMA)

This option involves department meat inspection (by Food Safety Meat Assessors) where the department provides resources.

  • This includes MISS assessments for throughput and staffing.

B.   AAO post-mortem inspection

This is where the AAO provides post-mortem inspection and final disposition on all carcases and carcase parts under OPV supervision.

  • There is no department FSMA on the end of the chain providing carcase - by - carcase assessmentor at the carcase point.
  • There are no MISS requirements under this system and the department does not prescribe how many AAO’s are required to undertake post-mortem inspection.
  • No verification workload assessment needs to be completed.
  • The OPV verifies post-mortem inspection performed by AAO.
  • No additional resource for verification is required unless increased  verification is required due to continuing non-compliance.
  • Where verification of post-mortem inspection identifies non-compliance in the process,  increased verification may need to be implemented.

Ante-mortem

A.   Ante-mortem inspection by a Porcine Ante-mortem Inspector (PAMI)

  • Ante-mortem inspection is to be undertaken by a PAMI with verification being completed by the OPV.
  • The OPV verifies the performance of the ante-mortem inspection system.

Where verification of ante-mortem inspection identifies non-compliance in the process, increased verification may need to be implemented.

B.   OPV ante-mortem inspection (OPV)

  • Ante-mortem may be undertaken by the OPV when a company requests that the department OPV performs ante-mortem inspection and where workload allows.
  • The Director – Inspection  (Meat) in consultation with the ATM may undertake a verification assessment on plant based around the red meat model to assess whether the OPV can undertake ante-mortem inspection.
  • Product Hygiene Indicators (PHI) data further verifies the effectiveness of ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection.

Wild Game AEMIS

A.   One Food Safety Meat Assessor inspection (FSMA)
This option involves department meat inspection (by FSMAs) where the department provides the resources for post mortem inspection and final disposition on all carcases and carcase parts.   This includes Meat Inspection Staffing Standard (MISS) assessments for throughput and staffing. This AEMIS option relates to all one FSMA establishments only.

  • This includes MISS assessments for throughput and staffing.

B.   AAO post-mortem inspection

  • The AAO provides post-mortem inspection and final disposition on all carcases and carcase parts under department veterinary supervision.
  • There is no department FSMA on the end of the chain providing carcase by carcase assessment  or carcase point.
  • There are no MISS requirements under this system and the department does not prescribe how many AAOs are required to undertake post-mortem inspection.
  • The OPV verifies post-mortem inspection performed by AAO.
  • No additional resource for verification is required unless  increased verification is required due to continuing non-compliance.

C.   Variations

  • Establishments processing two species may choose a  one FSMA post-mortem inspection on one species and an AAO post-mortem inspection on the other as a viable option for implementing AEMIS.
  • On establishments with a double shift an establishment may choose one FSMA post-mortem inspection shift on one and an AAO on the other shift.
  • Where these variations are adopted by an establishment AAOs and FSMAs are not interchangeable, i.e. the establishment is responsible for the provision of AAOs and the department for the provision of FSMAs.
  • Where the establishment wants to run a domestic shift, it can include the relevant program in the approved arrangement and can run it without the departmental official presence. This variation must have both relevant state regulatory authority and departmental approval.

Independent Employers of AAOs

Independent employers of AAOs who enter into contracts with an export registered establishment 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 must ensure they comply with EU requirements, including the use of AAOs. All current export registered abattoirs with EU listing must ensure they maintain compliance with EU requirements, including the use of AAOs.

The Scheme is 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 at  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.

The Appointment of Authorised Officers

Appointment of authorised officers is through an application process.

Please refer directly to the policy on the appointment and use of non-departmental authorised officers to undertake prescribed functions under the Export Control Act 2020 and its sub-orders.

Employers and applicants are encouraged to refer to the supporting guideline: Information about the Australian Government Authorised Officer application process prior to completing the application.

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 will  require a workplace health and safety assessment.

Departmental requirements at on plant facilities

Amenities

The department requires sufficient amenities to comply with Chapter 4, Part 1, Sub-section 9 of the Export Control (Meat and Meat Product) Rules 2021. 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 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 to allow analysis and reporting of PHI data and calculation of the PHIs.

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 below 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 non-departmental authorised officers

Establishment Name: ...............................................................................................................
Establishment Number: ............................................................................................................
Or
Service provider name: .......................................................................................................
Date of form completion: ..........................................................................................................

Item Mandatory Proposed Completion Date
Approved arrangement additional clauses Y  
Approved arrangement additional tasks Optional  
Authorised Officer Application form(s) and associated documents Y  
Uniforms Y  
Authorised Officer induction training (Registered Training Organisations) Y  
Obligations of third party Authorised Officers training (Registered Training Organisation) Y  
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  
 
Qualifications Mandatory Proposed Completion Date
Total number of Authorised Officers required for plant    
Number enrolled in certificate III    
Number of certificate III    
Number of certificate III enrolled in certificate IV    
Number of certificate IV    

Last reviewed: 27 March 2021
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