The European Commission has requested that the European Food Safety Authority provides technical assistance on harmonised epidemiological criteria (harmonised epidemiological indicators) for specific public health hazards in food and animals to be used by risk managers when they consider that the current methods of meat inspection do not adequately address the relevant risks. It is related to the mandate from the Commission for a Scientific Opinion on the public health hazards to be covered by inspection of meat. The present report and the related Opinion under this mandate concern the meat inspection of domestic solipeds.
In this report, harmonised epidemiological indicators are proposed for food-borne biological hazards to public health that are related to domestic solipeds and meat thereof and that can be addressed within meat inspection and that have been indicated as relevant by the ranking methodology applied in the Scientific Opinion of the EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards. These hazards include only Trichinella. An epidemiological indicator is understood to mean the prevalence or concentration of the hazard at a certain stage of the food chain or an indirect measure of the hazard (such as audit or evaluation of process hygiene) that correlates with the human health risk caused by the hazard. The epidemiological indicators can be used by the European Commission and the Member States to consider when adaptations to meat inspection methods may be relevant, and to enable the Member States to carry out risk analysis to support any such decisions. It is foreseen that the epidemiological indicators could be used to categorise countries/regions or animals according to the risks related to particular hazards.
Risk managers should decide on the most appropriate use of the epidemiological indicators at the European Union and national levels. Depending on the purpose and the epidemiological situation of the country, the indicators may be applied at national, regional, or slaughterhouse level. The indicators can be used alone or in combination. They may be applied to classify countries, regions or animals according to the infection status related to the hazards. The accumulated historical data from implementation of the epidemiological indicators will be particularly useful for the categorisation of countries and regions.
All epidemiological indicators are proposed for domestic soliped populations at the slaughterhouse level. One indicator includes the provision of food chain information with respect to the country or region of origin of the animals.
Comparable data from the European Union Member States are available for Trichinella prevalence at the animal level.
For each epidemiological indicator addressed, the key elements of minimum monitoring or inspection requirements are defined. These include the animal population to be targeted, the stage of the food chain at which the sampling should take place, sampling strategy, type and details of the specimen to be taken, diagnostic or analytical method to be used, and a case definition.
It is recommended that the European Commission and the Member States define legal requirements for improving traceability of horses, recording information on all animal movements.
The implementation of the proposed epidemiological indicators will generate additional data that will provide a more precise picture of the epidemiological situation in the European Union and these data may be used to update the indicators, when appropriate. It is recommended that the Member States report the data generated from the implementation of these indicators in accordance with the framework prescribed in Directive 2003/99/EC. The proposed indicators should be reviewed regularly in the light of new information and the data generated by their implementation.