NATA has been involved in accrediting 3rd Party Providers of Australian Authorised Government Officers (AAO) for the postmortem inspection of meat and meat products for export in accordance with the Australian Export Meat Inspection Systems (AEMIS) guidelines since June 2014.
Until this year, AAOs could be employed by the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment (DAWE) or by commercial 3rd Party Providers.
Early this year DAWE announced that after 30 September 2021, these AAOs were no longer going to be provided by DAWE and instead would have to be sourced from accredited 3rd Party Providers.
Meat Safety Australia based in Bunbury saw an opportunity to provide such service in Western Australia and applied for accreditation in July 2021.
With a deadline of 30 September 2021, the sudden COVID -19 lockdown in Sydney meant that NATA had to find a different approach to do the visit. At first a technical assessor was sourced from South Australia as the border to WA was opened; however, that was short lived. With the situation looking very grim the Lead Assessor and DAWE worked together to find an alternative way to do the visit without compromising the outcome.
Consideration was given to using video cameras to virtually observe the inspections however the electrical noise inside an abattoir made it impossible to obtain a signal. A solution was found by asking DAWE personnel in WA to gather information under the direction of the assessment team to deliver the assessment – this was slower and had to be iterative but provided a solution to an access challenge.
The visit was conducted on 24 August 2021 using these local personnel and a virtual environment and in an incredibly tight turnaround, Meat Safety Australia was granted inspection accreditation on 14 September 2021 – only 21 days later – as a Third-Party Provider of AAOs for the postmortem inspection of meat and meat products for export, just 15 days prior to the deadline.
This was a win for all stakeholders.