Biological hazards in the pork chain continuum: Risk mitigation strategy
The volume of pork meat production is continuously growing in the EU over previous years due to lower food prices, higher number of reproduction sows and increased volume of pork exports to China. Consumer choices toward pork meat depend on culture, place of residence and social opportunities, as well as their perception regarding safety and quality of pork meat/meat products. The main biological hazards associated with pork meat/meat products important from the public health perspective are zoonotic food borne pathogens, bacteria and/or parasites, e.g. Salmonella spp., Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, Trichinella spp., Toxoplasma gondii and Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC), by decreasing order, including associated antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Pathways of infection and contamination of pork meat differ, taking into consideration the multiple entry routes for zoonotic biological hazards along the pork meat chain, from farm to the final product. Therefore, the defined level of safety of pork meat/meat products should be achieved by synergistic action of control measures effectively applied at different points along the pork meat chain and supported by the integrated risk-based food (meat) safety management system in major modules of the meat chain: pre-harvest (farm), harvest (slaughterhouse), post-harvest (meat processing, distribution, retail, consumers), as well as identification and traceability. The integrated meat safety management system should be based on good hygienic practices (GHP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) encompassing the science based hazard analysis and risk characterization, as well as identifying the most effective control options and risk mitigation strategies in the pork meat chain continuum.