Red meat and meat products have been implicated in many cases of foodborne illness. Pathogenic microorganisms, i.e. those that cause human disease, are found in the digestive tract of healthy cattle and sheep. These microorganisms are excreted in the faeces and can be found on the hides and fleeces of the live animal. Bacterial contamination of the fleece/hide can then be transferred onto previously sterile meat surfaces during slaughter and dressing.

The MHS introduced the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) which assesses the cleanliness of animals presented for slaughter to assist in the achievement of safe levels of dressed carcase hygiene. In the assurance of raw red meat safety, CCP's are points in the production chain where control can limit the microbiological hazards to a safe level. The acceptance of animals for slaughter is regarded as a CCP.

Cleaning in Meat Processing

Cleaning in a meat processing plant involves the removal of gross debris from large and hazardous equipment. Typically, medium pressure washdown systems are used for foam application and rinsing. Soils vary dependant on the process and include high levels of protein in the early stages of abattoir and fats and protein following evisceration.

Pathogens & Spoiling

The organisms of concern and focus in meat production are Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli 0157. In response to the recommendations of the Pennington Report (1996) after the outbreak of E. coli O157 in Lanarkshire attributed to cross-contamination between raw and cooked meat, the government encouraged industry to adopt a HACCP based approach to meat production.

In addition to the pathogens of concern a spoilage organism Clostridium estertheticum is an issue for vacuum packed red meat. Clostridia are anaerobic spore-forming bacteria; they cannot grow in the presence of oxygen, but grow well in its absence.

Perbac OPD has been developed and tested by Kersia as an open plant disinfectant with proven efficacy against the Clostridium estertheticum spore using the test protocol EN13704. Their spores are more resistant than the vegetative forms of bacteria to various conditions including heat, disinfectants and damage due to oxygen. They can also multiply in relatively small concentrations of nutrients with moisture and localised anaerobic conditions. They are likely to survive and grow best in cool places, such as in the cutting rooms and chillers.