Export Certification Reform Implementation FAQs - Australian Export Meat Inspection System

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What is AEMIS?

The Commonwealth Government, in consultation with the Australian meat processing industry, has established a service delivery model that will provide trading partners certainty regarding meat inspection and food safety verification compliance – this is known as the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS).

AEMIS is underpinned by an objective measure of meat hygiene called the Product Hygiene Index (PHI). The PHI is made up of a number of Key Performance Indicators that cover the macro and microscopic standards of meat.

AEMIS provides meat processors with the ability to engage qualified people called Australia Authorised Officers (AAOs) to undertake meat inspection tasks, giving businesses greater flexibility in how these staff are deployed when not undertaking meat inspection work.

AEMIS was established as part of the Australian Government’s Export Certification Reform Package. It was developed by the Australian Government and Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) through the Joint AMIC / AQIS Ministerial Taskforce.

When did AEMIS start?

AEMIS was implemented on 1 October 2011.

How will AEMIS help me?

AEMIS was implemented under Export Certification Reform Package (ECRP), the aim of which was to improve agricultural certification functions and market access across the agricultural industry.

AEMIS has the potential to provide significant savings and greater flexibility for the meat industry in managing its business cycles.

Industry will be able to:

  • engage AAOs to undertake official meat inspection functions
  • maximise the efficiency of meat inspection as long as defined performance standards are met
  • redeploy AAOs to other tasks within their businesses if required when not engaged in official meat inspection functions
  • engage AAOs locally – reducing travel times and costs

AEMIS will reward meat plants that are compliant with export and certification requirements with reduced regulatory audits. This will enable regulatory resources to be focussed in high risk areas.

This will result in further cost savings for those establishments that are consistently compliant.

What are AAOs?

AAOs are competent and authorised inspectors that meet government standards for inspection practices. AAOs will operate under the direction of On Plant Veterinarians (OPVs) in their official capacity and under department-issued work instructions. AAOs will meet objective performance standards verified by the OPV.

The introduction of AAOs will enable processors to employ as many or as few AAOs as required by their establishments.

What happened to Meat Inspectors?

Under the new service delivery model, the departmental Meat Inspector position may be replaced by the AAO role.

Meat processors, under the AEMIS service delivery model, now have the option to engage AAOs to undertake meat inspection tasks.

Are AAOs Company Inspectors?

No. Under the AEMIS model, AAOs are employed as qualified persons, authorised by DAFF. They are officers legally bound to the Australian government. They must comply with the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and must work under DAFF issued work instructions for the inspection task. AAOs must meet performance standards set by the government.

What are Food Safety Meat Assessors (FSMAs)?

FSMAs are department employees who supervise post-mortem inspection activities and assess individual carcases on red meat plants to ensure hygiene requirements are met.

Has industry been consulted?

The Australian Government has been working with the export meat industry since December 2009 to slash red tape and reduce the cost of the certification process and help Australian meatworks compete internationally.

The AEMIS service delivery model has been developed by the Australian Government in consultation with the Australian export meat industry and AMIC through the Joint AMIC / AQIS Ministerial Taskforce.

The Australian Government has also worked with other sectors of the meat industry to develop AEMIS models specific to those industries.

What about market access?

The department will continue to engage with our major trading partners to ensure they understand that proposed reforms to the meat inspection system will provide at least equivalent outcomes and greater transparency than the system we operate under now.

Using a risk based approach, AEMIS provides performance based audits. Complying establishments will be rewarded with fewer regulatory audits.

What IT systems are in place to support the new service delivery?

New IT Systems have been introduced to further enhance current technology and increase performance, data collection and operational efficiencies. These new systems are known as the Audit Management System (AMS) and the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR).

AMS will better collect and analyse performance data to measure compliance of export establishments with importing country requirements. It has been rolled out to all export sectors, including the meat sector. When fully functional, it will enable industries to benchmark their performance against agreed national standards.

AMS will allow the department to target its resources to the areas of greatest risk and benefit industry. Good performance will mean fewer regulatory audits.

Data analysis, reporting and monitoring of national trends by AMS will be an effective tool for use in market access negotiations. Trading partners will have greater assurance about the safety of Australia’s food exports and their compliance with importing country requirements.

MICoR is a smarter web based way to access importing country conditions for exporters. It replaces three previous departmental IT programs. Meat export conditions within MICoR were available from 4 July 2011.

Where to from here?

AEMIS is framed around risk and performance and how we can get the system to work smarter.

DAFF is committed to deliverable Key Performance Indicators to monitor export regulation and auditing processes. DAFF will reward good performance and compliance with reduced regulatory audits.

Businesses must comply with AEMIS requirements and compliance standards. Non compliant businesses will be heavily regulated to encourage improvement and to protect the integrity of Australia’s market access.

Where can I get more information?

For more information you can visit ECRI on ​the website.