Risk-based hygiene control in European Abattoirs (Innovation project in the Norwegian business sector - BIONÆR)

Norwegian Research Council, grant no. 244493/E50.

Project period: 01.01.2015 – 31.12.2017

In Collaboration with the Department of Innovation and Marketing of Nortura SA, a Norwegian Meat and Poultry Company, and in eight Norwegian abattoirs and a selection of abattoirs/companies in Denmark (Landbrug & Fødevarer), Germany (Tönnies Lebensmittel GmbH & Co. KG), England (Janan Meat Ltd, Tamara Pickstock) and Spain (Matadero de la Pola de Gordón, MAFRILE, S.L)

Primary and Secondary Objectives

The primary objective is to secure pay-back from hygiene investments and achievements developing tools for risk based international assessment of hygiene in abattoirs, including microbiological status, visual contamination and general hygiene practices. 

Secondary objectives:

 1. Develop a protocol for international baseline studies on hygiene in abattoirs based on proper laboratory experimental design and a mathematical platform for result conversion and comparison. 

2. Conduct a baseline study on hygiene and hygiene economy in selected abattoirs inside the European Economic Area. 

3. Risk profiling of VTEC and antimicrobial resistance in E. coli in selected European abattoirs. 

4. Establish causal process-oriented Bayesian Network models for E. coli and other hygiene-indicator bacteria in beef and sheep production chains. 

5. Conduct a survey on knowledge and perception of general hygiene, risk and preparedness among consumers, meat industry managers and food safety authorities. 

A closing seminar where the results will be presented is planned for February 15th 2018.

The Project’s 4 work packages (WP), and what has been done so far

 1. Develop a protocol for international baseline studies:

So far, the following article has been published: Experimental Evaluation of Performance of Sampling Techniques for Microbiological Quantification on Carcass Surfaces http://www.foodprotection.org/files/food-protection-trends/nov-dec-17-rossvoll.pdf

 2. A baseline study on hygiene in selected abattoirs in the European Economic Area:

The study has been carried out in seven European slaughterhouses as planned. In every visit, data was collected on slaughter hygiene, random microbiological samples taken from selected carcasses and slaughter hygiene audit was carried out. Whenever possible, the slaughterhouses have contributed by taking parallel samples of the selected carcasses. Data has been analyzed and a scientific article is under preparation.

3. Risk profiling with respect to VTEC and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) E. coli in selected European abattoirs. The microbiological samples collected in WP2 has been further analyzed for Vero-toxin (VTEC) producing and antibiotic resistant E. coli. There were few positive samples in Norway. Work is going on checking the possible link between VTEC antibiotic resistant E. coli and on general hygiene. A scientific article is under preparation.

4. Establish causal process-oriented Bayesian Network models for E. coli and other hygiene-indicator bacteria in beef and sheep production chains:

Routine slaughter hygiene data from slaughterhouses that take samples from chilled carcasses (Norway and Denmark) has been collected and analyzed. Heads of quality assurance in Norwegian and Danish slaughterhouses were interviewed on how routine slaughter hygiene data is used by them. A manuscript on the issue is under preparation.

A model for tracing where microbial contamination takes place in the slaughtering process will be developed. At the same time, the assessment of the cost of contamination reducing measures with regard to food safety and public health will be studied. A scientific article on the matter is under preparation.

5. A survey on perception of general hygiene, risk and preparedness

A survey and emergency preparedness exercises on competence, attitudes, and perceptions on hygiene, risks have been developed. The exercises will be implemented in fall through interviews with senior and junior leaders in various levels in slaughterhouses, with meat inspectors and food safety authorities. Taken together, these elements will give an objective indication of the relative meat hygiene in the studied slaughterhouses. This knowledge is important for developing policies and legislation that can have big economic and hygienic values in the meat sector and the society in general.