EU approves new Trichinella testing method

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

There is now a safer way to test for Trichinella in swine
There is now a safer way to test for Trichinella in swine

Related tags: Codex alimentarius

Abattoirs and meat producers have a safer way to test swine carcases for the potentially dangerous Trichinella at meat inspection. 

The European Union has approved the use of the new PrioCHECK Trichinella AAD from Thermo Fisher Scientific, which uses an alternative artificial digestion (AAD).

All pigs slaughtered for human consumption have to be tested for Trichinella by artificial digestion. Trichinellosis is a disease that occurs worldwide and is caused by the roundworm.

Humans can be infected by eating raw or insufficiently cooked meat.

PrioCHECK Trichinella AAD is an alternative to the currently used pepsin-based method. It does not use pepsin powder or hydrochloric acid, meaning it is easier to handle and safer for workers.

“Monitoring the health of animals at harvest helps determine a precursor for food safety,”​ said Martin Guillet, global head and general manager of animal health at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

'Healthier, cleaner, safer'

“Testing for Trichinella at inspection is considered as an essential way to prevent zoonosis. Our solution contributes to this type of testing, helping to ensure the safety of the food source, and is in line with the Thermo Fisher Scientific mission of enabling customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.“

Laboratories do not have to change their testing routine as the same steps are used as the current pepsin-based method. A piece of muscle tissue is chopped, minced and then digested with digestive enzymes. The solution is filtered and, after sedimentation steps, examined by microscope for the presence of the larvae.

All components of the PrioCHECK Trichinella AAD are liquid solutions and no acid is added. Therefore, the risks associated with handling powder or concentrated acids are avoided

The alternative artificial digestion (AAD) method has been validated and approved by the EU and is now listed in Commission regulation (EC) 2075/2005.

New guidance

Meanwhile new international guidance for establishing negligible risk for trichinae in pigs could significantly boost exports of US pork, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

The United Nations’ (UN) food-safety standard-setting body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, has published global guidelines to help countries establish methods for monitoring the parasite risk.

“The UN guidance will greatly increase confidence in the safety of pork and protect consumer health while facilitating trade,”​ said NPPC president Dr Ron Prestage. 

A number of countries require testing for trichinae as a precondition to accepting exports of fresh chilled US pork, while other nations will accept only frozen or cooked pork.

Dr Ray Gamble, past president of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, has estimated the prevalence of trichinae in the US commercial swine herd at 1-in-300 million, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognises the US commercial herd as low-risk.

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