Meat and meat products are a widely consumed food. Businesses dealing with meat and meat products have a responsibility to make sure that the end product is safe and suitable to eat.
the risks - a snapshot
There are a number of microorganisms that are recognised as being responsible for food borne illness. In highly perishable foodstuffs such as fresh or uncooked meat or meat products, the threat of food poisoning from these microorganisms is particularly relevant.
The most common microorganisms linked with meat include:
Campylobacter - usually linked with raw poultry or from people eating raw or undercooked poultry meat.
E. coli - usually associated with raw meat and/or people eating undercooked, contaminated meat.
Listeria monocytogenes - a recognised problem in lightly-preserved meat product.
Salmonella -sources include undercooked poultry and meat.
example: managing listeria in smallgoods
If the manufacture of smallgoods (ready-to-eat meats) forms part of your meat business you have a responsibility to meet minimum standards for managing Listeria. You may need to show how you comply with Standard 4.2.3 of the Food Standards Code. Manufacturers of smallgoods should review how their operations comply with Section 2 of the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Listeria monocytogenes in smallgoods: Risks and controls and implement requirements within their operations. The resulting documentation can then be used as a reference tool to assess compliance with Standard 4.2.3 of the Food Standards Code.
so now you know the risks, what next?
If you are a supplier of meat and meat products in Queensland then there are certain responsibilities you have under the food safety scheme for meat and meat products (Meat Scheme).
Listeria in Ready to Eat meats
With recent news of increasing Listeria outbreaks in Ready to Eat (RTE) meats in Queensland and around the country, the spotlight is on food safety standards in the meat industry.
In February 2008, the Meat Standards Committee (MSC) brought out a new guideline for testing Listeria.
The guideline follows a food poisoning incident in South Australia when RTE meat was implicated as the cause of the Listeriosis illnesses and deaths. The guideline is being implemented in each state and will affect the retailers of RTE meat.
The below points are how Safe Food Production Queensland (SFPQ) adopts the MSC's Listeria guideline:
All accredited businesses have been required since 1 January 2002 to validate their food safety control measures pursuant to Regulation 15 of the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014.
New applicants for accreditation, and persons amending their existing food safety program to include RTE meats are advised that they must validate their control measures prior to supplying RTE meat and are provided with a copy of the MSC guideline and are also referred to the MLA guidelines for control of Listeria.
For all operating businesses, if a Listeria spp. is detected then SFPQ raise a Corrective Action Request (CAR) and provide the Holder of Accreditation (HOA) with a copy of the MSC guideline, which sets out what is required to manage the detection. This goes to records and validation prior to SFPQ closing out the CAR.
For all operating businesses, all records (including validation of food safety controls and Listeria management) are checked as a matter of routine during all types of audits conducted by SFPQ.
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Codex Alimentarius Commission
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program. The report of the 30th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is now available.
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