About this Research Topic
The value of meat inspection as an animal health and food safety surveillance tool has been recognized by a number of agencies and organizations, including, the European Food Safety Authority. Because most food animals would eventually be slaughtered, slaughterhouses are considered a key element along the food production chain in which pathological data, information on the presence of pathogens, drug residues, chemical contaminants, and antimicrobial resistance may be measured. Slaughterhouses therefore represent an important control point for the early identification of potential problems that may have an impact on public health as well as on animal health and welfare.
The aim of this Research Topic is to foster discussion on animal health intelligence opportunities offered by slaughterhouse surveillance (SSurv), its limitations, as well as the types of control actions that may be triggered or promoted in both developing and developed countries. Specific areas of interest for papers include, but are not limited to, studies aimed at assessing:
• financial performance (cost, cost-effectiveness) of slaughterhouse surveillance activities: SSurv has the potential to increase the effectiveness of national surveillance systems because checks at targeted control points in which animals from different farms are gathered in high concentration along the food production chain may contribute to the coverage and sensitivity of surveillance system at relatively low costs.
• impact of guidelines on the international trade of meat products and limitations and biases of slaughterhouse sampling for surveillance in both developed and developing countries: slaughterhouses are not always the final destination of livestock from small holders, may be biased in terms of representativeness, and data collected may not allow for timely action; furthermore, regulatory guidelines for the slaughtering process do exist but may significantly differ between countries.
• control measure effectiveness, monitoring of pathogen evolution, monitoring of residues and anti-microbial resistance: SSurv may best address specific surveillance objectives that do not required high level of timeliness: e.g., monitoring of prevalence evolution; monitoring of viral changes
• risk factors of contamination, evaluation of microbiological hygiene indicators, alternative methods to measure and monitor hygiene during the slaughtering process: meat is an important vehicle of food-borne pathogens demanding an effective control of its contamination during slaughtering processing
• syndromic surveillance for early detection: lately emphasis has been put on the use of meat inspection data in syndromic surveillance systems to allow for the early detection of outbreaks or abnormal health events
• challenges of traceability and control: surveillance of diseases in slaughterhouses could lead to control action in countries where animal product traceability is in place
• slaughterhouse-based targeted surveillance, whether risk-based or not: SSurv combined with other approaches and tools, such as risk-based surveillance and network analysis of the animal production value chain, may help to identify specific areas for disease investigation
Keywords: Slaughterhouses, meat inspection, health surveillance, welfare, food-chain, food safety
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