Visible Contamination on Animals and Carcasses and the Microbiological Condition of Meat

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It is generally assumed that preventing visible contamination of or removing visible contamination from carcasses will enhance the microbiological safety of meat. Visible contamination of carcasses can be reduced by washing or otherwise cleaning animals before slaughter, by dehairing hides before carcasses are skinned or dressed with the skin on, or by performing skinning and eviscerating operations in manners that avoid the transfer of filth from the hide to the meat or the spillage of gut contents. Visible contamination can be removed by washing, trimming, or vacuuming carcasses. The available data appear to indicate that, of the various actions that can be taken to obtain carcasses that are free of visible contamination, only minimizing the visible contamination of meat during skinning and eviscerating operations may also ensure a degree of control over the microbiological contamination of meat. It might be preferable for visible contamination to be controlled largely by superior skinning and eviscerating practices rather than by animal or carcass cleaning treatments, which may not prevent the depositing of bacteria on or the removal of substantial numbers of bacteria from carcasses.


Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research Centre, 6000 C & E Trail, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada T4L 1W1

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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