Is cross contamination the biggest risk in the production of meat products?

The cross contamination This is what occurs when handling products during their preparation. It occurs when clean food comes into direct contact with contaminated food. For example, put vegetables in the same container where you put raw meat.

Any type of raw meat can contain a number of different pathogens. Early in the meat production process, pathogenic organisms can be transferred to freshly slaughtered carcasses and then spread to primary cuts.

In general, raw cuts of meat are transformed into finished products through a wide variety of technologies and recipes. Even if carcasses are not contaminated or cooking and fermentation successfully eliminate the pathogen, the risk of cross-contamination remains. It is well known that Listeria monocytogenes they can remain on the equipment and factory environment.

According to Jeff Banks, food safety and hygiene expert, The most important risk for the meat industry is cross-contamination. In order to fully assess and effectively manage this invisible risk, critical control points (HACCP) and precise locations and behavior must be identified. Listeria monocytogenes in meat production plants.

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meat sector-pollution

These are areas of high risk of contamination in meat production facilities

1. Cooking

Cooked meat is susceptible to contamination Listeria monocytogenes. The cooking process of ham, pâté and other products eliminates most pathogenic bacteria, providing an ideal environment for Listeria to grow.

Therefore, if cross-contamination occurs between cooked meat and unhygienic equipment or surroundings, Listeria monocytogenes It has a highly nutritious breeding medium. Therefore, hygiene must be paramount in the areas where the cooked meat comes out of the metal molds and during the roasting or smoking steps.

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2. Fermentation

It is a centuries-old technique. It is based on natural microorganisms and defined starter cultures, which help acidify the meat using fermentable carbohydrates. The raw, dried and fermented meat products They have a long history of safe consumption, and traditional recipes and processes can eliminate Salmonella and E.coli.

However, if the raw meat is heavily contaminated, the fermentation process may not completely remove the contamination. Listeria monocytogenes. If the causative agent is still present in small numbers, routine sampling may not even detect it.

In addition, many of these raw meat products have a moisture content and acidity that do not support further growth of Listeria monocytogenes. However, fermented products can still cross-contaminate other equipment and spread Listeria to other more sensitive meat products, for example, cooked meat.

3. Cutting and cutting

High-speed cutting or chopping machines are usually used. They are generally designed for maximum efficiency, but are difficult to clean and disinfect. Listeria can remain on equipment and be resistant to detergents and disinfectants used in the kitchen. cleaning and disinfection machine.

Even biofilms form and sometimes reappear only after the machines generate enough heat to melt the animal fat and release the microbial contamination. Regular sampling of this equipment is required to detect the cause of long-term low-level contamination.

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