BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has completed a review of meat inspection practices across the European Union, and its findings will be the basis of changes aimed at modernizing meat inspection practices in the EU.

EFSA released four scientific reports that provide advice on meat inspection procedures in cattle, sheep, goats, farmed game and horses. The organization identified foodborne biological and chemical hazards and ranked them according to their risk to public health for all types of meat-producing animals considered.

Biological hazards were ranked based on their impact on incidence of disease, the severity of the disease in humans and evidence that consumption of meat from the various species is an important risk factor for the disease.

Chemical hazard risk rankings were based on the outcomes of the National Residue Control Plans for 2005-2010 and other testing programs, in addition to substance-specific criteria, such as its toxicological profile, according to EFSA.

For the most relevant foodborne biological hazards, EFSA has also proposed harmonized epidemiological indicators.

“This work will support risk managers in mitigating public health risks at an important step in the meat production chain,” said Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA's executive director.

For example, recommendations on biological hazards that are applicable to all species included:

• Introduce a comprehensive meat safety assurance system, including clear targets for main hazards in carcasses. New data on biological hazards might be needed to support such targets;
• To meet these targets, use the available control options for the main hazards, at both farm and abattoir level;
• Categorize herds/farms and slaughterhouses according to the magnitude of risk posed by biological hazards.
• Omit routine palpation or incision techniques in post-mortem inspection.