US: New food safety tools target small meat firms

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hazard analysis and critical control points Food Haccp

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has announced the development
of web-based resources to help small meat and poultry processors
with HACCP implementation.

Resources have been developed in three areas: validation of critical limits, development of HACCP plans and evaluation of raw-product temperature deviations. HACCP, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system, is internationally accepted as the best choice of programme to follow for food safety management. Meat and poultry processors looking for scientific validation of critical limits, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and corrective actions can refer to published research-based information available at the website of the University's Center for Meat Process Validation: The University says "The website is devoted to sharing the Center's peer-reviewed research results in support of processors setting critical limits and responding to process deviations for all HACCP product categories: slaughter of beef and pork, raw-ground and raw not-ground products, heat-treated shelf-stable products, fully-cooked not shelf-stable products, and not fully-cooked, not shelf-stable products​." The website also contains model HACCP plans, SOPs and SSOPs (Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures). The HACCP plans have been reviewed by the USDA/FSIS "and the voluntary use of these 'gold standard' model plans should allow processors…to more easily meet state or USDA/FSIS meat inspection expectations​" Finally, the website also provides access to THERM, an interactive tool for evaluating the safety of raw meat or poultry held for a time at abusive temperatures. It is designed for evaluating process deviations at temperatures between 10°C and 46°C. It has been used to evaluate meat safety after cooling systems have failed. This initiative by the University of Wisconsin complements the work of the International HACCP Alliance, based at the University of Texas. This organisation was formed in 1994 to assist the US meat and poultry industry in preparing mandatory HACCP. Members strive to encourage the adoption of HACCP throughout the food industry worldwide. The Food Standards Agency in the UK, which advocates HACCP, lists the seven guiding principals as follows:

  • Identification of hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced

  • Identification of critical control points (CCPs), at the stages at which control is essential

  • Establishment of critical limits at CCPs

  • Establishment of procedures to monitor CCPs

  • Establishment of corrective actions to be taken if a CCP is not under control

  • Establishment of procedures to verify whether the above procedures are working

  • Establishment of documents and records to demonstrate the effective application of the above measures.

The FSA issues its own guidance on HACCP for UK meat plant operators. The Center for Meat Process Validation website has a link to a new USDA internet resource to help smaller companies answer food safety questions. The USDA says that the Predictive Microbiology Information Portal "brings together models, research data and other useful resources that assist small and very small processors in producing the safest foods​" (​) Food safety is a vital issue for meat processors in the US at present. The US has just seen the biggest meat recall in its history - 143,383,823 pounds of raw and frozen meat products which originated from the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company. Fears were raised that non-ambulatory cattle forced to slaughter might have bought BSE into the food chain. Concerns have also been voiced that the USDA is not taking adequate measures to ensure the safety of the nation's meat supply.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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