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Carcass Treatment :-
Operations in meat processing plants comprise the manufacture of value-added meat products from primary products of meat origin and non-meat origin. There are three principles of meat hygiene, which are crucial for meat processing operations.

  • Prevent microbial contamination of raw materials, intermediate (semi-manufactured) goods and final products during meat product manufacture through absolute cleanliness of tools, working tables, machines as well as hands and outfits of personnel.
  • Minimize microbial growth in raw materials, semi-manufactured goods and final products by storing them at a low temperature.
  • Reduce or eliminate microbial contamination by applying heat treatment at the final processing stage for extension of shelf life of products (except dried and fermented final products, which are shelf-stable through low aw and pH)
 
The impact of microbial contamination on meat and meat products
Meat hygiene serves to minimize the impact of undesirable microorganisms and chemical residues on meat. While residue control is primarily the task of the competent authorities, control of microbial contamination is the responsibility of meat plants in the first place. Meat plant management and staff should therefore possess sufficient knowledge about impact of microorganisms on food and of basic rules on how to prevent or minimize microbial contamination.

Microorganisms of relevance with regard to meat hygiene include parasites, moulds, bacteria and viruses. Within these groups bacteria play the most important role. Therefore, the focus of meat plant internal hygiene measures is mainly on bacteria, while moulds and viruses play a minor role but disinfection measures must also target them. The incidence of parasites should normally pose no major problems in meat which has passed meat inspection, or if efficient internal pest control programmes or measure are in place.

How does bacterial contamination of meat occur ?
In live animals, the muscle meat is virtually sterile. However other parts of the animal such as skins, hooves and intestines contain enormous numbers of bacteria. Depending on the slaughter hygiene, these bacteria find their way to the carcass or “contaminate” the meat during slaughterhouse operations. Skinning, scalding, evisceration, dressing and carcass transport are common contamination points. Most bacteria reach the carcass via butchers’ hands, tools, contact with equipment or through water, air, etc. The bacterial contamination of meat is not stopped after slaughtering. It is ongoing during the operations following the slaughter process, such as meat cutting and meat processing..

It is quite normal and unavoidable to find bacterial counts of “total plate count” of the order of several thousands per cm2 on meat surfaces in commercial slaughtering and meat handling. However, the principle must be to keep bacterial counts as low as possible through adequate hygienic measures. Total plate count numbers exceeding 100,000 per gram (105 per cm2) on fresh meat are not acceptable and alarm signals and meat hygiene along the slaughter and meat handling chain must be urgently improved
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