Questions asked as new contractor takes over BPHS assessments
9th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver
A new contractor will take over health assessments under the British Pig Health Scheme (BPHS), following a tender process by AHDB Pork.
The contract for the assessments will be taken on by Hallmark, which, based near Stroud in Gloucestershire, describes itself as ‘the go-to organisation for all regulatory and quality requirements of food sector customers’.
Hallmark will replace Vetscore, which was generally seen by farmers to have delivered the service effectively over the years.
It is understood, while price was only one element of the tender, Hallmark’s tender was significantly lower on cost than that submitted by Vetscore.
AHDB Pork insisted producers who use the service, which feeds back health information collected at abattoirs to farms, should see no difference.
But the NPA Producer Group expressed concern over the decision during its meeting in London on Tuesday.
Producers questioned whether Hallmark would come into this crucial role with sufficient expertise to deliver the service effectively.
NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “We are concerned about whether Hallmark has sufficient skill and expertise to carry out the abattoir assessment to the required standard.
“As they have met the terms of the tendering process, then on paper this would appear to be so. We can only then wait to see that they carry out the job to the required standard.
“Questions were asked about Hallmark’s training and preparedness for the task but this will only become apparent when assessments begin.
“Clearly there are some good savings to be had but this must not be at the expense of accurate quality data.
"NPA will be watching very closely to ensure they deliver."
AHDB Pork Veterinary team manager Martin Smith said: “Vetscore has done an excellent job for which we are extremely grateful.
“However, AHDB regularly reviews all its contracts and this one was re-tendered to ensure we continue to get good value for money for the levy payer. The result was that HallMark won.
“The BPHS service will continue during the handover period and producers should notice no difference.
“HallMark brings a wealth of experience to work of this sort and will provide a quality service for producers.”