Scientific Opinion on the public health hazards to be covered by inspection of meat (swine)
A qualitative risk assessment identified Salmonella spp., Yersinia enterocolitica, Toxoplasma gondii and Trichinella spp. as the most relevant biological hazards in the context of meat inspection of swine. A comprehensive pork carcass safety assurance is the only way to ensure their effective control. This requires setting targets to be achieved in/on chilled carcasses, which also informs what has to be achieved earlier in the food chain. Improved Food Chain Information (FCI) enables risk-differentiation of pig batches (hazard-related) and abattoirs (process hygiene-related). Risk reduction measures at abattoir level are focused on prevention of microbial contamination through technology- and process hygiene-based measures (GMP/GHP- and HACCP-based), including omitting palpation/incision during post-mortem inspection in routine slaughter, as well as hazard reduction/inactivation meat treatments if necessary. At farm level, risk reduction measures are based on herd health programmes, closed breeding pyramids and GHP/GFP. Chemical substances listed in Council Directive 96/23/EC were ranked into four categories. Dioxins, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls and chloramphenicol were ranked as being of high potential concern. However, chemical substances in pork are unlikely to pose an immediate or short term health risk for consumers. Opportunities for risk-based inspection strategies by means of differentiated sampling plans taking into account FCI were identified. Regular update of sampling programmes and inclusion of inspection criteria for the identification of illicit use of substances were also recommended. Meat inspection is a key component of the overall surveillance system for pig health and welfare but information is currently under-utilised. The changes proposed to the pig meat inspection system will lead to some reduction in the detection probability of diseases and welfare conditions. The difference is likely to be minimal for diseases/conditions that affect several organs. To mitigate the reduced detection probability, palpation and/or incision should be conducted as a follow-up to visual inspection whenever abnormalities are seen.