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Meat Sci. 2008 Jan;78(1-2):3-13. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2007.07.027. Epub 2007 Jul 28.

Challenges to meat safety in the 21st century.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Center for Red Meat Safety, Colorado State University, 1171 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171, USA.


The safety of meat has been at the forefront of societal concerns in recent years, and indications exist that challenges to meat safety will continue in the future. Major meat safety issues and related challenges include the need to control traditional as well as "new," "emerging," or "evolving" pathogenic microorganisms, which may be of increased virulence and low infectious doses, or of resistance to antibiotics or food related stresses. Other microbial pathogen related concerns include cross-contamination of other foods and water with enteric pathogens of animal origin, meat animal manure treatment and disposal issues, foodborne illness surveillance and food attribution activities, and potential use of food safety programs at the farm. Other issues and challenges include food additives and chemical residues, animal identification and traceability issues, the safety and quality of organic and natural products, the need for and development of improved and rapid testing and pathogen detection methodologies for laboratory and field use, regulatory and inspection harmonization issues at the national and international level, determination of responsibilities for zoonotic diseases between animal health and regulatory public health agencies, establishment of risk assessment based food safety objectives, and complete and routine implementation of HACCP at the production and processing level on the basis of food handler training and consumer education. Viral pathogens will continue to be of concern at food service, bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Campylobacter will continue affecting the safety of raw meat and poultry, while Listeria monocytogenes will be of concern in ready-to-eat processed products. These challenges become more important due to changes in animal production, product processing and distribution; increased international trade; changing consumer needs and increased preference for minimally processed products; increased worldwide meat consumption; higher numbers of consumers at-risk for infection; and, increased interest, awareness and scrutiny by consumers, news media, and consumer activist groups. Issues such as bovine sponginform encephalopathy will continue to be of interest mostly as a target for eradication, while viral agents affecting food animals, such as avian influenza, will always need attention for prevention or containment.

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