Industry looks towards change in meat inspection system

Speaking at the Eblex Processor Conference last week, representatives from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and a leading farm animal diagnostics company emphasised the need to move away from traditional meat inspection, and towards a modern visual system.

The FSA’s deputy veterinary director Javier Dominguez told the Eblex conference, held in Stratford-upon-Avon, that the current meat inspection system had been in place for over 100 years, and that since the dangers faced have changed, a new system was needed.

He said: “When the current system was created, bovine TB was a human health problem - this shows how much has changed. We now have big public health problems, mainly microbiological hazards like campylobacter, and we need to change to impact these hazards.”

He added that campylobacter, salmonella and the like have a high probability of occurrence and and a big impact on the public health, but that they cannot be detected through the current post-mortem inespection system.

Dominguez wants a more visual methodology that is cost-effective and can tackle modern hazards. Currently the system is based on palpation and incisions of different organs and lymph nodes.

He said: “We should try to handle the carcase as little as possible and then there will be fewer bacteria. We need a more visual and microbiological system.”

Patrik Buholzer from animal diagnostics company Prionics Lts spoke later at the conference and echoed Dominguez’s sentiments.

He said: “The incision of organs and lymphnodes can spread pathogen agents over the slaughter line. Also, the traditional meat inspection cannot detect much. A number of limitations exist.”

Buholzer empahasised the need for a visual and risk-based system, with information and feedback as a key part of it.

He said: “You need continuous feedback from the slaughterhouse to the farm. Then you have lower disease and a constant monitoring of the farm.  This will also stop the introduction of diseased animals into the supply chain.”

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