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Scientific Opinion on the safety and efficacy of using recycled hot water as a decontamination technique for meat carcasses

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For carcass decontamination purposes, only use of potable water is currently allowed in the EU. However, recycling (i.e. reusing after reheating) of the water used for carcass decontamination has been practiced in some countries (e.g. Canada, Denmark), because environmental and energy-preserving reasons. In this document, potential microbiological and abiotic risks for carcasses associated with recycled hot water decontamination, and related control options, were considered. It has been concluded that the decontamination efficacy of recycled hot water does not differ significantly from that of hot potable water. With recycled hot water, only microbiological risks associated with heat-resistant bacterial spores (C. botulinum, C. perfringens, C. difficile and B. cereus) are relevant. These risks can be controlled through ensuring that recycled hot water is verifiably subjected to such reheating and frequency of renewal regimes which ensure that the microbiological risk in recycled water is not higher than in hot potable water. For abiotic risks, the only concern with recycled hot water derives from the potential presence and accumulation of residues of veterinary drugs and other chemical contaminants not addressed in Council Directive 98/83/EC in the water for decontamination of poultry carcasses.