Animal Production Food Safety

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Increased pressure from a critical public because of food safety concerns is bringing about changes in animal production systems worldwide, particularly in the developed countries. Animal-based production is moving towards systems such as organic production and loose-housing systems which allow the animals to better express normal behavior.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • In line with the global economic growth, there has been a 75 percent increase in global meat consumption since 1990.
  • There is higher demand for meat in both developed and developing countries, and this has give rise to a wide variety of higher quality meat, a broader diversity of meat cuts, more ease in preparation and enhanced assurances of safety.
  • However, frequent outbreaks of animal diseases, for example Mad Cow Disease and Bird Flu, are adding to global consumer concerns and making producers increasingly aware of their responsibility for the safety of the foods they produce. Safety and farm-level quality assurance systems based on hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) principles are being increasingly adopted and followed

All about animal production food safety

To maintain consumer confidence, the meat industry is required to produce high quality wholesome product. To meet the goal of prevention contamination of beef, pork or poultry products at the farm, GMPs must be applied, including residue assurance programs. During slaughter and processing, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems are increasingly used to replace or supplement traditional meat inspection and end-point sampling. This requires a level of sophistication which is not available in developing countries.

It is therefore essential:

  • to introduce GPM at the farm level with emphasis on lowering the pathogen load of animal prior to slaughter,
  • to use GMP/HACCP at export packing plants
  • to train veterinarians in risk analysis methods related to food safety and the import/export of animal products to provide the necessary know-how for the support of these programs.

In underdeveloped countries, for example, swine cysticercosis results from a high percentage of infected pigs, particularly those not slaughtered through official channels.

  • Sanitary measures must prevent the contamination of the environment with human feces in order to break the life cycle of the tapeworm.
  • Consumers can prevent most pig-borne food safety hazards by cooking pork and pork products.

Higher degree of bio-security

Food safety concerns have created havoc in global beef markets in recent years. Concerns are highest in North America following loss of major export markets following the discovery of cattle in the United States and Canada infected with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in 2003.

The trend is moving towards a higher degree of bio-security, often associated with an increase in herd size and self-containment. Increase in herd size and specialization has come about due to globalization of agricultural trade and increased competition. Competition and greater herd sizes have led to giving rise to environmental concerns livestock-dense areas. These in turn have resulted in good farming practice regulations and systems to provide a higher level of transparency, such as quality risk management programs.

What are the hazards?

What are the risks to human health due to hazards arising from animals? These hazards are caused from a biological, chemical or physical agent in food which have the potential to cause an adverse health effect in humans, whether or not it causes disease in animals.

United Nation agriculture officials had warned of risks being transferred from animals to humans if animals are kept in high concentration in confined spaces.

Globally the fastest-growing sectors are pig and poultry, with annual production growth rates up to 4 percent over the past decade. As a result, most chickens and turkeys in industrialized countries are now raised in facilities with 15,000 to 50,000 birds. Moreover, significant movement of animals also raises the risk of transferring diseases.

Animals are butchered in most developing countries under poor hygienic conditions. Even the manner of storage invites bacterial contamination and multiplication.The larval stage of the dog tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus) is found mainly in organs of sheep and goats. In humans, E. granulosus cause a severe disease with hydatid cysts in the liver and/or the lungs.

Common diseases

Worldwide the most common food-borne bacterial disease is Salmonellosis created from Salmonella-infected food-producing animals. Strains resistant to antimicrobials is also a great health hazard.

Escherichia coli are one of the main inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract of most mammalian species, including man. Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), also called verotoxinogenic E.coli (VTEC), do not usually cause disease in animals, but may cause watery diarrhoea, haemorrhagic colitis and/or haemolytic uraemic syndrome in humans. These zoonotic STEC include the O157:H7 strains and, more and more frequently, certain non-O157 strains. Zoonotic STEC is found mostly among cattle and other ruminants and are transmitted to humans through the ingestion of foods or water contaminated with animal faeces, or through contact with infected animals or their environment.

Listeria monocytogenes has been found frequently as a pathogen in food-borne infections. But as listeriosis causes the maximum amount of deaths due to food-borne illness, it is considered the most dangerous of them all. Monocytogenes has a unique ability to persist in food-processing environments and multiply under refrigeration temperatures. This, therefore, makes it a unique and significant threat to food safety and public health.

What can I do?

Producing and maintaining healthy stock requires good husbandry practices, which include stock selection and veterinary attention. Feed is a key input, both as a source of pathogen-free nutrients and as a balanced dietto maintain healthy livestock. Safe water, appropriate vermin and wildlife control and an optimum environment to reduce stress are important if animals are to perform.


  • U.N. Warns Confinement Production Lead To Diseases
  • Animal production food safety challenges in global markets

See Also