Poland sick cow slaughterhouse: Meat from closed abattoir ‘sold to nine EU countries’

Secret filming by broadcaster TVN revealed the unwell animals being killed at a slaughterhouse situated 112km east of Warsaw.

Chris Harris of Euronews reports meat from the abattoir went to Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

“The priority today is to trace and withdraw from the market all the products originated from this slaughterhouse,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner responsible for food safety said in a statement.

“I call on the member states affected to take swift action.

“At the same time, I urge the Polish authorities to finalise as a matter of urgency their investigations, taking all the necessary measures to ensure the respect of the EU legislation including effective, rapid and dissuasive penalties against the perpetrators of such a criminal behaviour that could pose risk to public health and portrays an unacceptable treatment of animals.”

Polish police are investigating after the secret footage appeared to show sick cows dragged into the slaughterhouse and sold with little or no veterinary inspection.

Authorities reacted to the scandal by imposing controls in Polish abattoirs.

“This is the problem of just one company. It is unpleasant, and it is worth stigmatising.

“Fortunately, it is a small slaughterhouse and the other 99.9% of meat processing plants are good,” said Janusz Rodziewicz, head of meats lobby SRiWRP.

But Patryk Szczepaniak, the reporter who uncovered the scandal, said it was a nationwide problem.

Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85% exported to countries including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Developing official control in Finnish slaughterhouses, 2018

From a PhD dissertation by Jenni Luukkanen of the University of Helsinki. Here’s hoping the defence last week went well.

Official control in slaughterhouses, consisting of meat inspection and food safety inspection, has an important role in ensuring meat safety, animal health and welfare, and prevention of transmissible animal diseases. Meat inspection in the European Union (EU) includes the inspection of food chain information, live animals (ante-mortem inspection), and carcasses and offal (post-mortem inspection).

Food safety inspections are performed to verify slaughterhouses’ compliance with food safety legislation and are of the utmost importance, especially if slaughterhouses’ self-checking systems (SCSs) fail.

The aim of this study was to investigate the prerequisites for official control such as the functionality of the task distribution in meat inspection and certain meat inspection personnel-related factors. In addition, needs for improvement in slaughterhouses’ SCSs, meat inspection, and food safety inspections, including control measures used by the official veterinarians (OVs) and their efficacy, were examined. In the EU, competent authorities must ensure the quality of official control in slaughterhouses through internal or external audits, and the functionality of these audits was also studied.

Based on our results, meat inspection personnel (OVs and official auxiliaries [OAs]), slaughterhouse representatives, and officials in the central authority were mainly satisfied with the functionality of the present task distribution in meat inspection, although redistributing ante-mortem inspection from the OVs to the OAs was supported by some slaughterhouse representatives due to perceived economic benefit.

Ante-mortem inspection was assessed as the most important meat inspection task as a whole for meat safety, animal welfare, and prevention of transmissible animal diseases, and most of the respondents considered it important that the OVs perform antemortem inspection and whole-carcass condemnation in red meat slaughterhouses.

In a considerable number of slaughterhouses, OA or OV resources were not always sufficient and the lack of meat inspection personnel decreased the time used for food safety inspections according to the OVs, also affecting some of the red meat OAs’ post-mortem inspection tasks. The frequency with which OVs observed post-mortem inspection performed by the OAs varied markedly in red meat slaughterhouses. In addition, roughly one-third of the red meat OAs did not consider the guidance and support from the OVs to be adequate in post-mortem inspection.

According to our results, the most common non-compliance in slaughterhouses concerned hygiene such as cleanliness of premises and equipment, hygienic working methods, and maintenance of surfaces and equipment. Chief OVs in a few smaller slaughterhouses reported more frequent and severe non-compliances than other slaughterhouses, and in these slaughterhouses the usage of written time limits and enforcement measures by the OVs was more infrequent than in other slaughterhouses.

Deficiencies in documentation of food safety inspections and in systematic follow-up of corrections of slaughterhouses’ non-compliance had been observed in a considerable number of slaughterhouses. In meat inspection, deficiencies in inspection of the gastrointestinal tract and adjacent lymph nodes were most common and observed in numerous red meat slaughterhouses. Internal audits performed to evaluate the official control in slaughterhouses were considered necessary, and they induced correction of observed non-conformities. However, a majority of the interviewed OVs considered that the meat inspection should be more thoroughly audited, including differences in the rejections and their reasons between OAs. Auditors, for their part, raised a need for improved follow-up of the audits.

Our results do not give any strong incentive to redistribute meat inspection tasks between OVs, OAs, and slaughterhouse employees, although especially from the red meat slaughterhouse representatives’ point of view the cost efficiency ought to be improved. Sufficient meat inspection resources should be safeguarded in all slaughterhouses, and meat inspection personnel’s guidance and support must be emphasized when developing official control in slaughterhouses. OVs ought to focus on performing follow-up inspections of correction of slaughterhouses’ non-compliance systematically, and also the documentation of the food safety inspections should be developed.

Hygiene in slaughterhouses should receive more attention; especially in slaughterhouses with frequent and severe non-compliance, OVs should re-evaluate and intensify their enforcement.

The results attest to the importance of internal audits in slaughterhouses, but they could be developed by including auditing of the rejections and their underlying reasons and uniformity in meat inspection.

Rapid testing for big 6 shiga toxin E. coli in slaughterhouses

Six major Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroups: O26, O103, O145, O111, O121, and O45 have been declared as adulterants in federally inspected raw beef in the USA effective June 4th, 2012 in addition to the routinely tested STEC O157: H7. This study tests a real-time multiplex PCR assay and pooling of the samples to optimize the detection and quantification (prevalence and contamination) of six major non-O157 STEC, regardless of possessing Shiga toxins.

imagesTo demonstrate the practicality, one large-scale slaughter plant (Plant LS) and one small-scale slaughter plant (Plant SS) located in the Mid-Western USA were sampled, in 2011, before the establishment of 2013 USDA laboratory protocols. Carcasses were sampled at consecutive intervention stations and beef trimmings were collected at the end of the fabrication process. Plant SS had marginally more contaminated samples than Plant LS (p-value 0.08). The post-hide removal wash, steam pasteurization, and lactic acid (≤5%) spray used in Plant LS seemed to reduce the six serogroups effectively, compared to the hot-water wash and 7-day chilling at Plant SS.

Compared to the culture isolation methods, quantification of the non-O157 STEC using real-time PCR may be an efficient way to monitor the efficacy of slaughter line interventions.

Evaluating the efficacy of beef slaughter line interventions by quantifying the six major non-O157 Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli serogroups using real-time multiplex PCR

Food Microbiology, Volume 63, May 2017, Pages 228-238, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2016.11.023

KST Kanankege, KS Anklam, CM Fick, MJ Kulow, CW Kaspar, BH Ingham, A Milkowski, D Döpfer

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002016305639

USDA strategies to reduce E. coli levels at beef slaughterhouses

Reduction of E. coli O157 illnesses since the mid-1990’s has been one of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s greatest public health successes, with illnesses having dropped by over 50% since 1998.  While overall illnesses are down significantly, the most recently available outbreak data shows a slight increase in illnesses from this dangerous pathogen.  FSIS’ Strategic Performance Working Group (SPWG) has released a six-point strategy to turn the trend back in the right direction.

usda.sanitary.dressingThe SPWG determined that a reduction in O157 could be achieved in two ways.  First, the Agency needs to improve how FSIS inspection personnel verify plant performance of sanitary dressing procedures through better training, more correlations, and developing a standard to assess industry’s performance of sanitary dressing. Drawing on the experience of its members, the SPWG also stated that the training would be most effective if it included photographs and real-world scenarios to effectively illustrate the issues discussed in the documents.

Second, the SPWG recommended improving the information available to industry on how sanitary dressing should be performed.  The SPWG said the Agency could do so by publishing a guide containing suggestions for best practices.

More detailed information about the SPWG’s findings and recommendations mentioned here can be found on the FSIS website at Strategic Performance Working Group: Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli Findings

Food safety begins on the farm; Campylobacter reduction in UK

Zoe Kay of Farmers Weekly writes that reducing human infection from campylobacter is the Food Standard Agency’s highest priority – and that means farmers through to supermarkets must play their part.

The reason, according to Javier Dominiguez Orive, deputy veterinary director at the FSA, is simple: Each year in the UK there are 460,000 cases of campylobacter food poisoning, 22,000 hospitalisations and 110 deaths, costing the NHS an estimated £540m.

30913_1The bacteria is endemic in the environment, he adds, and can be caught from pets. But chicken is responsible for 60-80% of all human cases.

“Birds from houses that are thinned are eight times more likely to be colonised at the end of the cycle,” Mary Howell, a senior scientific officer at the FSA told the conference. She pointed to the significant biosecurity risk that thinning presents, as well as the movement of modular crates. While these crates are routinely cleaned, this may not be done at a high enough temperature to kill the campy bug.

In addition to not thinning, Ms Howell also recommended sending evenly sized birds for slaughter by employing sexing and an effective culling-out policy as a way of potentially reducing campylobacter.

Veterinary consultant Jane Downes led a UK-wide on-farm project with the aim of demonstrating that biosecurity can work in controlling campylobacter.

Freshly-slaughtered-pluck-007“It is important for farmers to focus on producing safe food and not just see their chickens as animals.”

While much of the problem of Campylobacter can be traced back to farms, slaughterhouse practices also play a major part.

Cross contamination by carcass washing is one issue and trial work using barbecue dust has investigated the effectiveness of different nozzle types and settings. A web-based tool has since been developed, allowing processors to learn which measures work for them and compare their performance with others.

Numerous violations found at Mississippi slaughterhouses

Some meat processed for consumption in Mississippi has been kicked, contaminated, smeared with feces, left under dripping pipes and stored in insect-infested rooms, according to federal inspection records obtained by The Clarion-Ledger.

Nineteen of the state’s 22 slaughterhouses racked up a combined 470 noncompliance records between May 16 and July 1, as detailed by the USDA Food Safety and BryantsGroceryMeatMkt2009Inspection Service, which places personnel in all federally approved meat processing plants.

A noncompliance record is issued any time a plant fails to meet federal regulations on any one of a host of issues ranging from building maintenance to food safety controls.

The Clarion-Ledger requested the records in July after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video showing abuse at a Pontotoc, Miss., slaughterhouse. That slaughterhouse, Southern Quality Meats, did not appear in the report provided by FSIS.

The records — 300 pages of detailed inspection notes — are a fraction of the 10 years’ worth the newspaper requested and is still awaiting. FSIS provides the data in batches.

Nearly one-third of the records received detail the discovery of feces on randomly selected poultry carcasses before they enter the chiller, which is the last step before being cut up and packaged for consumption.

 

Surveys still suck: UK attitudes to slaughterhouse treatments

The piping hot risk communicators at the UK Food Standards Agency have found that rapid chilling of meat and the application of hot water or steam emerged as the two slaughterhouse treatments consumers would find most acceptable.

Treatments using lactic acid and ozone were initially considered less acceptable, however, when consumers were given extra information communicationon lactic acid, its acceptability increased significantly.

The survey was carried out as part of the Agency’s work to reduce the levels of campylobacter on raw poultry.

FSA Head Of Foodborne Diseases Strategy, Bob Martin said, ‘The findings suggest that providing clear information about the treatments, such as what they are and how they work, would have a positive impact on the public’s acceptability of new treatments such as these.’

FSA chief scientist Andrew Wadge also weighed in, writing the results suggest that “public resistance to innovative ideas may be partly due to an unfamiliarity with particular processes.

“It seems then, that the language we use and the type of information we provide on innovative processes is important to public acceptance of science.”

Uh-huh.

19 still sick with E. coli in Belgium; slaughterhouse to increase testing

While the case count remains at 19 in the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Belgium linked to américain préparé containing raw hamburger, the slaughterhouse that supplied the beef has pledged to increase testing.

Our French friend, Albert Amgar, wrote, it’s out of the ordinary to see a slaughterhouse communicate in such an open manner.

The abattoir in Genk (Limbourg province) is going to undergo even stricter testing following an infection of Escherichia coli from which 19 people were stricken in Limbourg this weekend. According the Federal Agency for the Security of the Food Chain (AFSCA), it is now certain that the infection came from this abattoir. The management of the slaughterhouse confirmed on their part that it is not out of the question that the victims kept the filet américain (that made them sick) in a place that was not sufficiently cold. But it also admits that the infection could have come from within the slaughterhouse, in spite of strict hygiene tests.

A French video can be seen at this link:

http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.francais/mediatheek_fr/2.3816/1.1334561

Thanks to Albert for finding the article and video, and Amy for translating.

Albert also had some sardonic words for the Belgian Minister of Agriculture, Sabine Laruelle, who attempted to reassure the public by reminding everyone that it was the common E. coli O157 strain and not the one that killed all the Germans last year.

Clean animals result in fewer E. coli: Norwegian PhD research

Following an E. coli outbreak in 2006, when 17 people fell ill and one child died after eating mutton sausages in Norway, the meat industry introduced a number of measures in order to reduce the risk of food poisoning from meat.

Clean animals and good hygiene during slaughtering are essential preconditions for food safety.

Sigrun J. Hauge of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science recently defended her doctoral research evaluating measures on farms and in slaughterhouses to reduce levels of dangerous E. coli.

Slaughterhouses have systems for categorizing animals according to how dirty they are. Around 3-5% of the animals that arrive at abattoirs are so soiled that they are categorized as high-risk. Every year, deductions in the price of meat due to dirty animals amount to over 9 million Norwegian kroners.

Soiled slaughter can pose a risk to food safety because feces on hides/wool, intestines, knives and the hands of the butchers can be transferred to the meat during the slaughter process. Hauge studied the factors affecting the cleanliness of animals on farms and how clean or soiled hide affects the contamination of skinned carcasses. Her experiments confirmed that meat from dirty cattle has more E. coli than meat from clean cattle.

Sheep farmers are also subjected to price reductions for dirty and unshorn animals. Hauge’s research showed that the surface of meat from shorn sheep has less E. coli than that of unshorn sheep immediately after skinning and that the point in time that the sheep are shorn before slaughtering is also significant when it comes to the amount of bacteria immediately after skinning. But towards the end of the slaughtering process, all the meat had equal amounts of E. coli on its surface, regardless of when the sheep were shorn.

Dirty and unshorn animals are considered a high risk. They are treated in separate product streams in the slaughterhouses and their meat is not used for raw products such as minced meat and cured meat, but for products that are heat treated before sale (such as sausages and meatballs etc.).

Meat from lambs was hosed with water at 82 °C for 8 seconds in an enclosed "shower" – so-called hot water pasteurization — before it was cooled. This treatment reduced the amount of E. coli on carcasses by 99.5%. After 5 days of cooling, no further E. coli were found on the meat. The recycled water in the shower was of a good microbiological, chemical and physical quality. Immediately after pasteurization, the meat was rather pale, but it regained its normal colour after being cooled for 24 hours.

Hot water pasteurisation is not generally accepted as a hygiene measure in Norway and the EU and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority would have to give its approval, if the method is to be used at slaughterhouses. Hot water pasteurization will obviate the need for separate product streams in abattoirs for high-risk sheep.

Cand.agric. Sigrun J. Hauge defended her doctoral research on 2nd May 2012 at The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NVH) with a thesis entitled “Hygienic impact of measures related to unclean cattle and sheep at farm level and in the abattoir.”

Illegal slaughterhouse — goats dogs frogs dragons — found in Melbourne

Police raided a Rockbank, Australia property this week with representatives from the RSPCA, Melton Shire Council, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and the regulator responsible for meat safety, PrimeSafe.

"The other agencies attended the residential address in relation to information about possible wildlife and animal cruelty offences, as well as the alleged production and selling of meat," a police spokeswoman said.

An RSPCA spokesman said 22 dogs of varying breeds were found and about 100 goats, one of which had to be euthanased on humane grounds.

PrimeSafe chief executive Brian Casey said two goat carcasses were found and about 20 kilograms of sheep or goat meat was discovered in a freezer.

There was no evidence dogs had been slaughtered, he said.

In Victoria it is illegal to slaughter non-consumable animals such as dogs, horses, cats and donkeys.

"You can slaughter consumable animals [such as goats] but they must be slaughtered at a licensed abattoir," Mr Casey told AAP.

There was an exemption in place to enable farmers to slaughter edible animals on their properties for their own consumption, but the Rockbank property was not a farm, he said.

More than 45 animals were seized by DSE including 30 frogs, four central bearded dragons, a children’s python and a crucifix toad, which were being kept illegally.

"A wildlife licence is required by anyone keeping and trading protected wildlife in Victoria."