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Sampling and follow-up shortcomings in poultry meat audit

By Joe Whitworth+

13-Oct-2014

There have been 34 RASFF notifications for German poultry meat and products since 2011
There have been 34 RASFF notifications for German poultry meat and products since 2011

Official controls on poultry meat and products in Germany are largely met but deficiencies are found around sampling and reactions to positive results, according to a Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) audit.

There is a system of official controls on poultry meat and products, which includes regular and risk based controls, said the FVO, about the audit from 31 March to 10 April.

However, official controls to verify food business operators’ (FBO) compliance with Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 do not ensure that requirements are met around the number of sampling units taken and actions in cases of non-compliant results for food safety and process hygiene criteria.

There was a comprehensive FBO sampling plan in establishments visited, in some cases going beyond what is required under EU legislation.

Process and Hygiene criteria breaches

However in one establishment, since the beginning of 2012 numerous results for Salmonella in neck skin samples and meat preparations were found, there was no evidence that the FBO had performed adequate follow-up investigations and no satisfactory corrective action had been implemented.

At the time of the FVO visit the trend showed no improvement in Salmonella prevalence (more than 10% in samples taken) and no recall or withdrawal of meat preparations occurred.

The competent authority told the audit team that when laboratory results are available the shelf-life of meat preparations in question had already expired.

It added that the product in question was always correctly labelled and gave accurate use instructions to final consumer (i.e. indicated that the product should be cooked before being eaten).

To get laboratory results earlier the meat preparations will be analysed using a new rapid laboratory method.

The audit team noted that the measures were inadequate to prevent the recurrence of the unacceptable microbiological contamination, so not fully in line with EU requirements.

In another establishment the audit team noted that official controls had not detected that the FBO sampling procedures were incorrect, i.e. only two to three sample units were tested instead of the required five from the same batch of meat preparations.

Controls on food additive use

The audit team noted that the samples for laboratory analyses of food additives in poultry processing plants are taken only from final product.

It was also the case for nitrite/nitrates which according to EU legislation should be monitored based on their amount used during production.

Inspection reports reviewed did not include any evidence that, besides the sampling, checks on the use of food additives were carried out on the spot.

In one establishment the FBO was not able to justify the levels added to poultry products produced on site.

FVO said the official controls on food additive use in this way are not in line with EU requirements due to lack of comprehensive controls, particularly concerning use during the production stage.

The audit was to verify, that official controls for poultry meat and products are in compliance with European Union (EU) legislation.

There have been 34 RASFF notifications triggered for German poultry meat and products since 2011 (mostly due to Salmonella and Campylobacter).

In the most recent poultry audit in 2010 deficiencies at company level and inadequate competent authority follow-up in establishments where deficiencies were recorded were discovered.

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