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Abattoirs Found Effective at Battling Pathogens

18 March 2014

UK – A study into pathogens and zoonoses on pig carcases at slaughter has shown a lower prevalence of bacteria on the carcases than in the animal.

The study was discussed at a national meeting held at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire last week.

The meeting looked at the results of the study of Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Hepatitis E virus, Yersinia, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus, antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter and Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase E. coli in UK pigs at slaughter.

This study was initiated by Defra and co-funded with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Public Health England and the British Pig Executive (BPEX).
Research was co-ordinated and led by AHVLA.

Samples were collected by FSA and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and laboratory examination was undertaken at several AHVLA Regional Laboratories, as well as Public Health England and Public Health Wales.

A total of 645 pig carcases were randomly selected and sampled at 14 slaughterhouses between January and May 2013. The slaughterhouses selected together process 80 per cent of all finishing pigs slaughtered in the UK. Abattoirs were recruited to the study by BPEX and FSA organisations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The unique multi-agency multi-funded project provided important data on numerous potential public and animal health risks, including the first UK-wide prevalence estimates for Toxoplasma, Hepatitis E virus, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus and Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase E. coli in slaughter pigs.

The study showed a consistently lower prevalence of bacteria found on carcases compared with carriage of the same microorganisms in the animal. This is clear evidence of the effectiveness of the dressing procedures in the abattoir to limit the contamination of pig carcases and thereby control the risk of exposure of consumers to potentially harmful microorganisms.

Results from the study can be found in the report published on the Defra web site.


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