Food Safety in Meat Production Facilities

Hygiene practices in meat processing plants are an important step in food safety. It is the responsibility of the FBOs, who manufacture meat products, to ensure that they have a well-planned hygienic programme for the various stages in meat processing to ensure food safety.  Meat processing involves the manufacture of value-added products that involve the use of raw materials of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian ingredients. Therefore, special attention has to be paid to meat hygiene to prevent contamination as that leads to a food safety risk.

During slaughtering there is bound to be some amount of unavoidable contamination but beyond that all precautions must be taken to prevent further contamination so meats products are safe. In order to prevent further microbiological contamination in raw materials, in process manufacturing of products and finished products FBOs must ensure complete cleanliness of

  • Tools and equipment used
  • Machines
  • Hands of food handlers

Also microbial growth must be minimised by storing raw materials and products at recommended low temperatures.  In the meat industry manufacturers also apply heat treatment at the final processing stage so as to extend shelf life.

Food Safety from microbiological contamination

Meat hygiene is a complex issue in meat manufacturing plants and each step is required for food safety. Hygienic treatment of meat before it reaches the processing stage is very important as any failure in controlling contamination can lead to food safety risk. Therefore during meat slaughter, meat cutting, handling of meat and meat transportation hygienic practices have to be fully maintained or it could lead to deterioration in the quality of the raw meat. Highly contaminated raw meat is unfit for further processing as it could have an overload of microbes which could result in food poisoning. Therefore, meat manufacturers need to take internal quality control measures like food testing of raw meats to ensure food safety.

Good Hygienic Practices for meat manufacturing facility should include

  • Well-planned and functional layout and sanitary design of equipment
  • Raw materials must meet all hygiene and quality standards
  • Processing methods must ensure safe handling of food
  • Proper waste and pest control measures
  • Sanitation procedures for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
  • potable water must
  • Cold chain in place
  • Regular examination of health and personal hygiene of staff
  • Regular training of staff on hygiene requirements

Food safety through quality control

Quality control of hazards is equally important and no meat should be allowed entry into the facility if the tissues look abnormal or the meat is highly contaminated. Any breakdown in the refrigeration system must be attended to immediately so meats remain safe. Since processed meats are packaged, there must be no sealing problems as any leaks can result in recontamination. Meat manufacturers must be fully aware of hazards that can occur along the entire production chain and take all preventive measures to ensure food safety. Besides known hazards there are several potential hazards which must be detected through food testing so they can either be contained or eliminated.