European poultry meat inspection methods are not sufficient to fully address the most relevant biological hazards such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has suggested.
In its report, Overview on current practices of poultry slaughtering and poultry meat inspection, the Parma-based authority confirmed that current inspection methods do not adequately enable the detection of these pathogens.
It added that there is a lack of regulatory harmonisation between European Union (EU) member states.
In May 2010, the European Commission (EC) asked EFSA to assess the strengths and weaknesses of current meat inspection methods, before recommending methods that take into account the hazards not addressed by current meat inspection practices.
This review is the second of six to be published, following an evaluation of swine-related methods in 2011.
“EFSA confirms that current inspection methods do not enable the detection of these hazards and, more broadly, do not differentiate food safety concerns from considerations related to meat quality, prevention of animal diseases or occupational hazards,” said a statement from EFSA.
On the back of the evaluation, which describes current broiler, turkey, duck and spent hen slaughtering practices, EFSA has urged the introduction of a comprehensive food safety assurance system including targets for what should be achieved in poultry carcasses.
It has also urged the use of control options for the main hazards at both farm and abattoir level in order to meet these targets.
“This report has shown that the current legislation does not cover the specific requirements of poultry meat inspection in an optimal way,” said the report.
“There is insufficient harmonisation in the implementation of Reg. No. 854/04 in the different Member States. The legislation lacks a clear catalogue of reasons for condemnation. It also does not specify under which circumstances the whole carcass must be rejected, or if only the affected organ system needs to be condemned.”
“For the different poultry species one single special regulation related to poultry alone would be helpful and sufficient,” the evaluation report added.
Meat inspection evaluation
EFSA published its first of six inspection-related opinions in late 2011, which scrutinised measures surrounding the slaughter of domestic swine.
In October 2011, FoodQualityNews.com reported on the evaluation, which found that the current European swine meat inspection practices were not adequate to deal with certain foodborne hazards.
Under the EC request, EFSA will publish an additional four opinions, covering the inspection of bovine animals, domestic sheep and goats, farmed game, and domestic solipeds.