EFSA calls for change to meat inspection

EFSA calls for change to meat inspection

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has made a number of recommendations for what it says are improvements to meat inspection procedures to better protect consumers, animal health and welfare. The recommendations were published yesterday as part of a set of scientific opinions on inspection of ruminants, farmed game and domestic solipeds, such as horses.

The EFSA opinions have highlighted that traditional meat inspection is not always suitable for detecting the main meat-borne hazards such as campylobacter and salmonella, or contamination by chemical substances such as persistent organic pollutants or prohibited substances.

EFSA recommends improvements to the current system, including:

• introduction of a comprehensive meat safety assurance system, including clear targets for main hazards, both at farm and in carcasses at abattoir level

• meat inspection, which includes ante and post-mortem inspections, is a valuable tool for the detection of specific animal health and welfare conditions

• omission of routine palpation or incision techniques in post-mortem inspection to avoid cross-contamination with the most significant microbiological hazards

• if routine palpation and incision are omitted, other approaches should be followed to compensate for the associated loss of information, particularly for the surveillance of bovine tuberculosis

• extended use of other information collected throughout the food chain could compensate for some, but not all, the information lost due to the proposed changes.

The Food Standards Agency has welcomed EFSA’s work in this area and says it will consider its recommendations carefully in the coming months.

The Agency’s views, and those of European member states, stakeholders and international trade partners, will be taken into account by the European Commission before any changes are proposed to existing regulations.

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