The European Food Safety Authority published a number of recommendations in late June for improving meat inspection procedures to better protect consumers and animal health and welfare. 

The recommendations are part of a set of scientific opinions on inspection of ruminants, farmed game and domestic solipeds, such as horses. They follow recommendations made for swine and poultry in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

The food authority's opinions have highlighted that traditional meat inspection is not always suitable for detecting the main meat-borne hazards such as Campylobacter and Salmonella or contamination by chemical substances.

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Among its recommendations to the current system are:

  • Introduction of a comprehensive meat safety assurance system, including clear targets for main hazards, both at the farm and in carcasses at the abattoir level
  • Meat inspection, which includes ante- and postmortem inspections, is a valuable tool for the detection of specific animal health and welfare conditions
  • Omission of routine palpation or incision techniques in postmortem inspection to avoid cross contamination with the most significant microbiological hazards
  • If routine palpation and incision are omitted, other approaches should be followed to compensate for the associated loss of information, particularly for the surveillance of bovine tuberculosis
  • Extended use of other information collected throughout the food chain could compensate for some but not all the information lost due to the proposed changes