The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is pointing at slaughterhouse practices to explain the high percentages of ground veal contaminated with E.coli.
FSIS is meeting with cattle abattoir managers to ensure hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) compliance, after test results showed that the percentage of E.coli-positive ground veal was higher than in ground beef produced from other cattle classes.
The government body noticed that carcase-handling was different between calves and grown cattle, which could explain the difference in results. “Specifically, veal slaughter establishments, in applying their antimicrobial interventions, failed to achieve carcase coverage, because of the practice of suspending carcases from the rail system with both hind limbs on a single hook. Because of this practice, antimicrobial or hot water interventions, such as sprays, did not reach all parts of the carcases,” said FSIS.
In addition, inspectors noticed that meat plant workers tended to stack veal products and fold longer pieces, such as loins, preventing antimicrobial sprays to reach all product parts. “Establishment personnel failed to address these actions by adjusting the conveyor belt timing, properly designing spray applications, and ensuring that product was single-stacked and lying flat, so that all product surfaces received the antimicrobial spray,” FSIS added.
As a result, inspection personnel are to review veal slaughtering establishments’ antimicrobial intervention control measures and observe the way they are implemented.