Scientific Opinion on the public health hazards to be covered by inspection of meat from sheep and goats


Panel on Biological Hazards
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2013;11(6):3265 [186 pp.].
Panel Members
Olivier Andreoletti, Dorte Lau Baggesen, Declan Bolton, Patrick Butaye, Paul Cook, Robert Davies, Pablo S. Fernández Escámez, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Havelaar, Kostas Koutsoumanis, Roland Lindqvist, James McLauchlin, Truls Nesbakken, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, Giuseppe Ru, Moez Sanaa, Marion Simmons, John Sofos and John Threlfall

The Panels wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on the public hazards to be covered by inspection of meat from sheep and goats, Geneviève Benard, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Rina Mazzette, Truls Nesbakken, Declan Murray and Miguel Prieto Maradona, the CONTAM Panel: Diane Benford, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael DiNovi, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Peter Fürst, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Anne-Katrine Lundebye Haldorsen, Manfred Metzler, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Michael O’Keeffe, Ivonne Rietjens, Dieter Schrenk, Vittorio Silano, Hendrik van Loveren, Christiane Vleminckx and Pieter Wester, the members of the CONTAM Working Group on meat inspection and contaminants: Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Reinhard Fries, Peter Fürst, Steven McOrist, Carlo Nebbia and Michael O’Keeffe, the AHAW Panel: Edith Authie, Charlotte Berg, Anette Bøtner, Howard Browman, Ilaria Capua, Aline De Koeijer, Klaus Depner, Mariano Domingo, Sandra Edwards, Christine Fourichon, Frank Koenen, Simon More, Mohan Raj, Liisa Sihvonen, Hans Spoolder, Jan Arend Stegeman, Hans-Hermann Thulke, Ivar Vågsholm, Antonio Velarde, Preben Willeberg and Stéphan Zientara, the members of the AHAW Working Group on meat inspection and animal health and welfare: Donald Broom, Marcus Doherr, Mariano Domingo, Javier Dominguez, Frank Koenen, Simon More, Declan Murray, Pascal Oltenacu, Mohan Raj, Moez Sanaa, Mo Salman, Martin Wierup and Preben Willeberg, for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion, and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) staff: Eva Warns-Petit and Vicente Lopez Chavarrias, and EFSA staff: Pablo Romero Barrios, Ernesto Liébana, Elena Mazzolini (BIOHAZ), Silvia Inés Nicolau-Solano, Valeriu Curtui, Gina Cioacata (CONTAM), Karen Mackay, Milen Georgiev, Ana Afonso (AHAW) for the support provided to this scientific opinion.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
European Commission
Question Number
6 June 2013
Published in the EFSA Journal
27 June 2013
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

A risk ranking process identified Toxoplasma gondii and pathogenic verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) as the most relevant biological hazards for meat inspection of sheep and goats. As these are not detected by traditional meat inspection, a meat safety assurance system using risk-based interventions was proposed. Further studies are required on T. gondii and pathogenic VTEC. If new information confirms these hazards as a high risk to public health from meat from sheep or goats, setting targets at carcass level should be considered. Other elements of the system are risk-categorisation of flocks/herds based on improved Food Chain Information (FCI), classification of abattoirs according to their capability to reduce faecal contamination, and use of improved process hygiene criteria. It is proposed to omit palpation and incision from post-mortem inspection in animals subjected to routine slaughter. For chemical hazards, dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls were ranked as being of high potential concern. Monitoring programmes for chemical hazards should be more flexible and based on the risk of occurrence, taking into account FCI, which should be expanded to reflect the extensive production systems used, and the ranking of chemical substances, which should be regularly updated and include new hazards. Control programmes across the food chain, national residue control plans, feed control and monitoring of environmental contaminants should be better integrated. Meat inspection is a valuable tool for surveillance and monitoring of animal health and welfare conditions. Omission of palpation and incision would reduce detection effectiveness for tuberculosis and fasciolosis at animal level. Surveillance of tuberculosis at the slaughterhouse in small ruminants should be improved and encouraged, as this is in practice the only surveillance system available. Extended use of FCI could compensate for some, but not all, the information on animal health and welfare lost if only visual post-mortem inspection is applied.

meat inspection, sheep, goats, slaughterhouse, surveillance, contaminants, residues
Print on demand
Number of Pages