BMPA and FSA welcome review of European pig inspection methods

UK meat leaders along with regulators have welcomed the news that changes may be on the cards when it comes to meat inspection for the pig sector.

Stephen Rossides, director with the British Meat Processors Association, said the report released by the European Food Safety Authority had confirmed the association’s view that current rules do not adequately address today’s food hazards.

“It is a major exercise undertaken in Brussels,” he added. “We will wait with interest for the next opinions in 2012, and we look forward to a wider review of food hygiene legislation and costs in Brussels.”

A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said: “The issue of out-of-date methods of meat hygiene inspections is something that that we have been concerned about for some time. The EFSA recommendations support the Agency’s view that a new approach that is more risk-based, proportionate and targeted to current meatborne pathogens in meat approved plants is needed.

“Microbiological threats such as bacteria campylobacter, salmonella and E. Coli cannot be adequately tackled using traditional inspection methods that are more than a 100 years old.”

The EFSA’s pig inspection report is the first of six ‘scientific opinions’ commissioned by the European Commission to assess the strenths and weaknesses of the current European meat inspection methods.

It concluded that the methods did “not differentiate food safety aspects from meat quality aspects, prevention of animal diseases or occupational hazards”, and were unable to detect some of the most serious bacteria present in pig meat.

The expert panel recommended that palpation and incision techniques be limited to suspect cases, as they increase the risk of bacterial cross-contamination.

Five other reports covering poultry, beef, sheep and goats, farmed game and domestic solipeds will be released in 2012, and provide the scientific basis for the modernisation of meat inspection in the EU.

> Improving hygiene along the food chain