Author: Gary Moore

Date: 19 December 2016

The Meat Safety Act, 2000[1] provides for measures to promote meat and animal-product safety.[2] It prohibits anyone from slaughtering an animal elsewhere than at an “abattoir”[3] (a slaughter facility for which a registration certificate has been issued[4]). The Minister of Agriculture may make regulations regarding requirements which facilities must comply with for registration.[5] The Act lays down “essential national standards” for all abattoirs (including that: A facility may be registered as an abattoir only if it complies with prescribed[6] requirements; an abattoir must be managed in accordance with a prescribed hygiene-management system; an animal must before slaughter be examined by a meat inspector or qualified person; an animal presented for slaughter in accordance with an animal health scheme under the Animal Diseases Act, 1984[7] may only be accepted if identified in terms of the scheme requirements; and meat must be inspected by prescribed methods.[8])

But, the Act says, the Minister may by regulation grant exemption from the operation of a provision of the Act (including any regulation or essential national standard[9]) in respect of a particular area, particular class of slaughter facility or abattoir or grade of abattoir, particular category or group of persons or owners, or particular kind or class of animal.[10] And the Minister may, subject to such conditions as may be specified by him (after consultation with the MEC responsible for abattoirs of an affected province), grant exemption from any essential national standard in respect of a particular area, grade of abattoir, owner or category or group of owners, person or category or group of persons, or kind of animal.[11]

(These provisions, contemplating discretionary exemptions from essential standards and provisions of the Act and regulations, undermine the Rule of Law concern that laws should be general.[12] The criteria relevant to the grant of exemptions are probably not so numerous or varied that they can’t be identified in advance, and are not clear and obvious,[13] and should as far as possible be stated in the Act or regulations.)

[1] Meat Safety Act 40 of 2000.

[2] Meat Safety Act, long title.

[3] Meat Safety Act s 7(1)(a)–(c).

[4] Meat Safety Act s 1 sv “abattoir” read with s 8(1) and (2).

[5] Meat Safety Act s 22(1)(b).

[6] “Prescribed” means prescribed by regulation. Meat Safety Act s 1 sv “prescribed”.

[7] A scheme for preventing, combating or controlling an outbreak or the spread or eradication of an animal disease or parasite. Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984 s 1(1) sv “animal health scheme” read with s 10(1) and s 1(1) svv “controlled purpose”, “animal disease” and “parasite”.

[8] Meat Safety Act s 11(1)(a), (e), (g), (i), (j), (k) and (m).

[9] Meat Safety Act s 1 sv “the Act”.

[10] Meat Safety Act s 22(2).

[11] Meat Safety Act s 11(3).

[12] President of the Republic of South Africa and Another vs. Hugo, 1997 (6) BCLR 708 (CC) para [102].

[13] Affordable Medicines Trust vs. Min. of Health of RSA 2005 (6) BCLR 529 (CC) pars [33]–[34].

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Gary Moore

Gary Moore BA LL.B. (Witwatersrand) LL.M. (UC London) is a South African lawyer and Senior Researcher at the Free Market Foundation.

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