Scientific Opinion on the public health hazards to be covered by inspection of meat (bovine animals)


Panel on Biological Hazards
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2013;11(6):3266 [261 pp.].
Panel members at the time of adoption
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, Antonia Ricci, Giuseppe Ru, Moez Sanaa, Marion Simmons, John Sofos and John Threlfall

The Panel wish to thank the members of the BIOHAZ Working Group on public health hazards to be covered by inspection of meat (bovines): Declan Bolton, Sava Buncic, John D Collins (deceased), Pierre Dorny, Arie Havelaar, Truls Nesbakken, John Sofos and the hearing expert Radu Blaga; and 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; and the CONTAM Working Group on meat inspection and contaminants: Bert-Jan Baars, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Reinhard Fries, Peter Fürst, Steven McOrist, Carlo Nebbia and Michael O’Keeffe; and 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; and 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, Mo Salman, Moez Sanaa, 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 the EFSA staff Luis Vivas-Alegre, Ernesto Liébana, Elena Mazzolini, Marios Georgiadis (BIOHAZ), Silvia Inés Nicolau-Solano, Valeriu Curtui, Gina Cioacata (CONTAM), Karen Mackay, Gabriele Zancanaro, 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 Salmonella spp. and pathogenic verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) as current high-priority biological hazards for meat inspection of bovine animals. As these hazards are not detected by traditional meat inspection, a meat safety assurance system for the farm-to-chilled carcass continuum using a risk-based approach was proposed. Key elements of the system are risk-categorisation of slaughter animals for high-priority biological hazards based on improved food chain information, as well as risk-categorisation of slaughterhouses according to their capability to control those hazards. Omission of palpation and incision during post-mortem inspection for animals subjected to routine slaughter may decrease spreading and cross-contamination with the high-priority biological hazards. For chemical hazards, dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls were ranked as being of high potential concern; all other substances were ranked as of medium or lower concern. Monitoring programmes for chemical hazards should be more flexible and based on the risk of occurrence, taking into account the completeness and quality of the food chain information supplied and the ranking of chemical substances, which should be regularly updated to include new hazards. Control programmes across the food chain, national residue control programmes, 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 bovine tuberculosis and would have a negative impact on the overall surveillance system especially in officially tuberculosis free countries. The detection effectiveness for bovine cysticercosis, already low with the current meat inspection system, would result in a further decrease, if palpation and incision are removed. Extended use of food chain information 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, bovine animal, cattle, contaminants, residues, surveillance, slaughterhouse
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