Scientific Opinion on the public health risks related to the maintenance of the cold chain during storage and transport of meat. Part 1 (meat of domestic ungulates)
Salmonella spp., verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica are the most relevant microbial pathogens when assessing the effects of beef, pork and lamb carcass chilling regimes on the potential risk to public health. Moreover, as most bacterial contamination occurs on the surface of the carcass, only the surface temperature is an appropriate indicator of bacterial growth. The growth of these four pathogens (using E. coli models for VTEC) during different time-temperature chilling scenarios was estimated using commercial slaughterhouse data and published predictive microbiology models. The outputs suggest it is possible to apply slaughterhouse carcass target temperatures higher than the currently mandated 7 °C throughout the carcass (including the core) in combination with different transport durations without obtaining additional bacterial growth. Combinations of maximum surface temperatures at carcass loading and maximum chilling and transport times, that result in pathogen growth equivalent or less than that obtained when carcasses are chilled to a core temperature of 7 °C in the slaughterhouse are provided.