Hygiene Performance Rating for Slaughtering of Cattle, Sheep, and Pigs

The Hygiene Performance Rating (HPR) protocol is developed by Animalia, Norway. The unique auditing tool for assessment of slaughter hygiene has been used in Norwegian abattoirs for the last 10 years.

The HPR evaluate and documents visually each operation on the slaughter line, assessing the factors that can affect the slaughter hygiene. It is based on systematic evaluation of general hygienic practices of each operation. The operators’ hygienic behaviour and risk handling of the carcasses along with routines and management, is assessed and the scores are punched into a web based application. 

The HPR audit starts in the morning, before the slaughtering has started, with an inspection of the quality of washing and cleaning of the slaughter line, and observation of the preparation routines of the operators. The HPR has detailed records from killing to grading of the finished carcasses. The questions in the scheme are related to the quality and frequency of hand washing, two-knives method with sterilizers (Taormina & Dorsa, 2007), compliance with GHP, especially at dehiding/deskinning or evisceration where hide/skin or intestines might contaminate the meat. A major focus for all slaughter operations is unnecessary contact between the clean carcass and (dirty) hands or knives, equipment, furnishing etc. The “worst” observed practise from the number of observed operational repeats is recorded, not the mean value of all the observed repeats. The condition of the building/premises, how the slaughter line is organized and managed, the use and sanitation of technical equipment, and working routines are other factors being assessed. Administrative procedures and management for both the abattoir personnel and local Food Safety Authority’s personnel are also included, as this is important for the attitudes and motivation of the employees.

Some registrations are performed:

  • Temperature in hot water sanitation (for knife, saws, scissors etc) in morning, midday and end of the day.
  • Counting number of intestines/rectums with wholes (%)
  • Lines using bagging with plastic bags on rectum: Counting number of rectums without bags (%) 
  • Counting number of intestines/stomach with wholes (%)
  • Counting tonsils cut open for pigs (%)
  • Counting tonsils residues attached to pig carcasses (%)
  • Counting visible spots (faecal spots, wool, or hand marks) on carcasses (%)
  • Counting unacceptable amount of blood on carcasses (%)
  • Counting unacceptable amount of spine, sawdust, hair (%)
Sections along the slaughter line Cattle Sheep Pigs
Management and buildings: cleaning,
materials maintenance, tidy, working cloths,
shearing of sheep
x X x
Sticking and bleeding x x x
Rodding x (x)  
Pre-skinning x x Scolding,
Skinning (hide/skin removal)  x x  
Head removal  x x x
Evisceration x x x
Carcass splitting/opening x X breast opening x
Meat inspection  x x x
Trimming with knife  x x x
Grading, weighing x x x
Offal control  (x) (X) (x)
End control  x x x

The observations are given a score from 1 to 3, were 1 means “ok”, 2 = “potential for improvement”, and 3 = “not acceptable”. Scores for each position is multiplied with a weight factor for hygienic impact and risk (1, 3, 6 or 12) and economic consequences (1 or 2) describing whether the abattoir must invest a large sum of money (1) or if it is a cheap quickfix (2), and calculated into a percentage where 100 % is perfect hygiene. The percentages for each operation (12 for sheep and 13 for cattle) are calculated into a total Hygiene Performance Rating result for the slaughter line.

A report with the results and detailed comments is available on-line for the abattoir. Photos and videos taken during the audit provides objective examples of good, suboptimal, or nonacceptable practices directly from the slaughter line for recommended improvements to be made. In this way, the operators themselves see their risk-behaviour, and the abattoirs can improve slaughter hygiene at each operation on the slaughter line. The effect of this audit on carcass contamination has not been evaluated before, but it has generally been regarded as a useful tool for training of the staff.