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Assessing the Hygiene of Pig Carcasses Using Whole-Body Carcass Swabs Compared with the Four-Site Method in EC Decision 471

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An investigation was carried out in a pig abattoir to determine the microbiological status of carcasses being produced after slaughter and dressing. The carcasses were sampled in accordance with EC Decision 471 in relation to the application of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) criteria to the slaughter of animals. In this regard, four sites on the animals were examined on five consecutive carcasses during each of 10 visits for the presence of total viable counts and Enterobacteriaceae. A comparison of the EC four-site method, with a whole-body swab technique, as a means of measuring carcass contamination found that the two methods gave significantly different results for both groups of organisms. A comparison of the mean of the individual data from the four sites with the data from the pooled samples revealed that there was a poor relationship between the two. Samples may be taken by excision or swabbing and allocated to three categories of process control, which, in turn, are based on microbiological criteria that are different, depending on whether sampling is by excision or swabbing. The influence of these changes in microbiological criteria is discussed in relation to the categorization of samples as acceptable, marginal, or unacceptable and the influence this has on process control. Finally, the proposed introduction of Salmonella as a safety indicator in the EC HACCP system is discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Teagasc, Ashtown Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland 2: School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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