Outcomes and value of current ante and post-mortem meat inspection tasks including green offal inspection activities

Last updated:
28 May 2010
This study will examine (across all species) inspection tasks as listed in EC Reg. 854/2004 and assess their value.
Study duration: May 2010 to January 2011
Project code: MC1003
Contractor: Royal Veterinary College

Background

(FS245010) The safety of meat for human consumption relies to a great extent on strict hygiene procedures and efficient ante and post-mortem inspections in slaughterhouses. This study will examine (across all species) inspection tasks as listed in EC Reg. 854/2004 and assess their value. The outcomes and effectiveness in delivering each inspection task will be assessed and whether the same outcomes could be achieved at other stages, which will prevent duplication. Any relevant conditions and pathogens which are undetected by current inspection tasks will also be identified.

Risk assessment of green offal inspection tasks will be incorporated into this study. Relevant conditions found as a result of green offal inspection will be identified and scenarios developed to assess any changes to the risk following modification or removal of this inspection requirement.

Research Approach

An inventory of the most prevalent hazards related to meat production will be created, in consultation with experts and relevant organisations. A list of conditions associated with each hazard, suitable for identification at the slaughterhouse, will be drawn up and linked to inspection tasks. The frequency of inspection tasks identifying a specific hazard will be estimated. The results will be discussed by a workshop including a group of international partners and the results will be summarised in a report. A framework or assessment tool will be developed to assess the effectiveness of inspection practices with regard to hazards from the inventory (created earlier) and the suitability of each task will be evaluated using a qualitative scoring system. Outcomes of the analyses will be reviewed. The final report will include recommendations on addressing possible concerns arising from the findings of this study.

Results

Effectiveness Assessment Tool

The results of the initial validation of the tool were satisfactory. It showed a good discrimination capacity that allows for appropriate comparison of effectiveness among meat inspection (MI) tasks. However, further validation would confirm the suitability of the model for a greater number of hazards. The results so far are promising and further work should be encouraged.

The assessment findings suggest that only 20 out of the 33 legally required MI tasks may be contributing realistically to the detection of the hazards tested in this project.

A great constraint on the work was the lack of data and information to include in the model. It will require a substantial amount of field-based research to obtain precise data.

Risk Assessment

The qualitative risk assessment for the three green offal (GO) inspection scenarios showed that for the hazards studied in this research – bTB, toxoplasmosis (in sheep), MAP, Salmonella (in pigs), CSF, hernia and tail-biting (in pigs) – the contribution of GO inspection was found to be of limited value because lesions associated with these hazards are seldom manifested in GO alone or their detection is not always followed by remedial action. Therefore, removal of this MI task would not make a substantial difference to the detection of these hazards and to their consequent risks to public health, animal health and welfare.