Red meat

The specific requirements for red meat production are set out in Annex III, Section 1 of Retained EU Regulation 853/2004:

  1. Chapter 1: Transport of live animals to the slaughterhouse
  2. Chapter 2: Requirements for slaughterhouses
  3. Chapter 3: Requirements for cutting plants
  4. Chapter 4: Slaughter hygiene
  5. Chapter 5: Hygiene during cutting and boning
  6. Chapter 6: Emergency slaughter outside the slaughterhouse
  7. Chapter 7: Storage and transport

Trichinella Testing

Trichinosis is a disease which is induced by the ingestion of the larvae of small parasitic worms. People can become infected by eating the meat from infected animals including pigs, wild boar, horses or game animals.

Retained EU Regulation 2015/1375 is the key piece of legislation regarding Trichinella in meat and lays out the conditions and methods for testing for Trichinella. It also sets out the conditions under which food businesses can be officially recognised as applying controlled housing conditions, where the risk of Trichinella is kept to a minimum.

Read information on Trichinella testing and controlled housing requirements for domestic pigs.

Clean livestock for Slaughter

One of the most important factors in controlling the spread of many bacteria and micro-organisms which cause foodborne illness, is the maintenance of clean livestock.

Dirty hides, coats and fleeces of cattle, sheep and other livestock, including excrement and mud, have the potential to contaminate meat during the slaughter process.

Article 11 of Implementing Retained EU Regulation 2019/627 requires that ante-mortem inspection must verify that slaughterhouses are complying with their obligation, as set out in the hygiene regulations, to ensure animals are clean at the time of slaughter. Therefore, to prevent the contamination of meat and reduce risks to public health, official controls staff will reject any animal for slaughter that does not meet the required standard of cleanliness.

Dirty livestock cost both the farmer and the abattoir money due to rejected livestock and slower line speeds at slaughter. It is therefore in everyone’s interest, both from a hygiene and a financial perspective, that clean livestock are produced for slaughter.

Pre-slaughter diet and the quality of bedding at the farm, during transport and in the abattoir lairage should all be considered when seeking to reduce contamination and dirtiness. Keeping livestock dry before slaughter will also help to prevent individual animals becoming overly dirty, whilst reducing the spread of contamination and bacteria between livestock.

As a last resort clipping can be used to remove visible dirt but it should be noted that this can bring unnecessary stress to the animal.  The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has produced videos that demonstrate best practice in this area. The videos are available on the AHDB Beef & Lamb YouTube channel. Watch the videos on:

See also:

The research that investigated e-coli 0157 super-shedding in cattle, the mitigation of human risk and the overall prevalence of STEC in Scotland

Farmed Game

The specific requirements for farmed game meat production are set down in Annex III, Section III of Retained EU Regulation 853/2004.

In general terms, the requirements for farmed game mirror that of fresh meat in Section I of Regulation 853/2004 other than for specific matters relating to ante mortem inspection and handling on farm. 

Food business operators may slaughter farmed game at the place of origin with the authorisation of the competent authority if:

  • the animals cannot be transported, to avoid any risk for the handler or to protect the welfare of the animals;
  • the herd undergoes regular veterinary inspection;
  • the owner of the animals submits a request;
  • the competent authority is informed in advance of the date and time of slaughter of the animals;
  • the holding has procedures for concentrating the animals to allow an ante-mortem inspection of the group to be made;
  • the holding has facilities suitable for the slaughter, bleeding and, where ratites (ie flightless birds) are to be plucked, plucking of the animals;
  • animal welfare requirements are complied with;
  • slaughtered and bled animals are transported to the slaughterhouse hygienically and without undue delay. If transport takes more than two hours, the animals are, if necessary, refrigerated. Evisceration may take place on the spot, under the supervision of the veterinarian;
  • a declaration by the food business operator who reared the animals, stating their identity and indicating any veterinary products or other treatments administered, dates of administration and withdrawal periods, accompanies the slaughtered animals to the slaughterhouse;
  • during transport to the approved establishment, a certificate issued and signed by the official veterinarian or approved veterinarian, attesting to a favourable result of the ante-mortem inspection, correct slaughter and bleeding and the date and time of slaughter, accompanies the slaughtered animals.