Meat Industry Services

Food Safety Interventions Information

Click on the links below to access information on interventions available at each stage of the meat production process

Contents Page Introduction to Interventions On Farm Processing - hide on Processing - hide off Chilling Packaging or Retail

Intervention technologies for red meat production

The complexity of the pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest environment of the food supply chain makes it impossible to control all potential sources of microbial contamination, as opportunities for contamination arise at many points. Thus, multiple control measures must be implemented throughout the food production and processing system to ensure the wholesomeness of the final product.

This section of the website reviews a number of interventions that may be applied during red meat production to reduce microbial numbers on the product, including those that are currently available and those that are being developed. All parts of the red meat production chain are considered, and information on demonstrated efficacy and regulatory acceptance in Australia, the EU, the US and other countries is included, where available. Some suppliers of equipment and consumables have been identified, and attempts made to indicate approximate costs, although these are very dependant on factors such as plant throughput, available labour and existing facilities. Advice is also given on the issues to be considered prior to implementing a new intervention in a process. This section was developed from an MLA-funded project reviewing new and emerging technologies for red meat safety.

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Many countries such as the USA have implemented intervention-based HACCP, where a specific procedure is applied to the product during processing in order to reduce the microbial load present. An intervention is a procedure or process (mechanical or human) that significantly affects the number of pathogens and other microorganisms present on a meat surface, be it a carcass or carcass piece. Using interventions can consequently lead to improvements in shelf life of the fresh or further processed product. Such interventions include knife trimming, hot water washes, organic acid washes, and steam vacuuming. These technologies and new food safety technologies are continually being developed to help processors to meet the increasingly stringent microbiological criteria that are being applied through the red meat supply chain. Regulatory bodies in a number of countries are accepting the use of intervention technologies as part of the fresh meat processing chain. For example, the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) document ‘E. coli O157:H7 contamination of beef products’ (USDA/FSIS 2002) and accompanying guidance documents were published in the Federal Register in October 2002. Inter alia, they stated that beef slaughter establishments should consider interventions that can be validated and verified as CCPs for reducing or eliminating E. coli O157:H7.

The reason for implementing an intervention is to reduce the likelihood of pathogenic micro-organisms being present on the carcasses and meat. Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 are the main target organisms in contemporary fresh meat production. No one single intervention technology can provide 100% assurance of the safety of a food product, and systems that provide reductions of 1-2 log units would be considered to provide appropriate improvements in the microbiological status of the product. One cannot emphasise sufficiently the need for good hygienic practices throughout the meat supply chain, supported by proper temperature control. No intervention can be expected to correct a highly contaminated product. Interventions such as those described in this review should form part of a multiple-hurdle approach to the production of safe, wholesome meat. Operators should not view any of these technologies as a way of rendering product with an initially high microbial loading “clean” and therefore pay less attention to the strict hygiene procedures necessary.

More information is available in the following Downloads:

Background to the use of interventions in red meat production

Guidelines for implementation of interventions

Application of interventions to the product

Overview of options available at different stages of red meat production

Summary of information on all interventions featured on this website

Review of new and emerging technologies for red meat safety (project report, 70 pages)

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