Improved food chain information and collection and communication of inspection results

Last updated:
9 March 2016
This study investigated ways of improving the effectiveness of meat controls and the costs and benefits of information exchange at the interface between animal production and slaughter for better public health, animal health and animal welfare.
Study duration: February 2014 to December 2014
Project code: FS517005
Contractor: Food Control Consultants Ltd

Background

Food chain information (FCI) refers to the information on the health status of the animal consigned for slaughter and the holding of origin. Collection and communication of inspection results (CCIR) refers to information that is collected during ante and post mortem inspection by officials and sent back to farmers to improve animal health and welfare and ultimately food safety. FCI and CCIR form part of the whole chain, farm-to-fork approach to food safety introduced by hygiene regulations on 1 January 2006.

In 2012, the FSA commissioned research to review the current implementation of FCI and CCIR. The research highlighted differences in the application of the food chain information flow between the sectors of poultry and pigs and the sectors of cattle and sheep. The research also made a series of recommendations, such as to carry out a risk assessment for each species to account for different production and marketing systems, and to highlight key information for recording rather than minimum elements.

This project built on the outcomes of the research to provide the necessary evidence on what constitutes key FCI and CCIR that would support a more risk based and effective system for pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry.

Research Approach

This study focused on the provision of food chain information (FCI) to slaughterhouses and the collection and communication of inspection results (CCIR) to producers, their veterinarians and relevant officials.

The project approach was to:

  • Provide an overview of the current situation based on the findings of recent FSA research, identify areas for improvement and consider the main factors that need to be taken into account in developing new approaches.
  • Develop new FCI/CCIR models to help improve the controls on meat inspection in controlling hazards to public health, animal health and animal welfare risks throughout the whole meat production chain.
  • Carry out cost-benefit analyses for both primary producers and for slaughterhouses. There will also be an assessment of the public health benefits from improved information sharing between processors and primary producers.

 

Results

The FSA has identified the need for a more effective, risk based and proportionate approach to meat controls. As well as protecting public health, new approaches should protect animal health and welfare.

This study by Food Control Consultants investigates ways of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of meat controls by identifying key FCI and CCIR data to support a more risk based meat inspection system for cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry under different production systems. The costs and benefits are analysed in terms of better public health, animal health and animal welfare.

The main recommendations are:

  • Enhancement of the existing food safety controls with an evidence-based system that includes integration of treatments, diagnoses and tests undertaken on-farm into the FCI, with possible scope for extending this further, and CCIR results for all batches of animals to include results of tests taken for foodborne zoonoses at the abattoir.
  • Food business operator and Official Veterinarian access to CCIR databases to inform decisions at the abattoir about processing methods, product treatment and use and inspection and sampling procedures.
  • Adequate sampling for food borne zoonoses on the slaughter line, using initially mesenteric lymph nodes and/or intestinal contents. This system of sampling can be used also for other purposes, as requested by the farmer, the authorities or research institutions.
  • Improved systems for the capture and recording of inspection findings to promote accuracy and consistency.
  • Accessibility of CCIR (including laboratory results) for producers via a central database to inform herd/flock health planning.
  • Central data capture and data depository IT system for all the information above (tests, treatments, lab results on farms, ante and post mortem and laboratory results at the abattoir) with controlled access for stakeholders, including those with an interest in animal disease surveillance and animal welfare monitoring.