They met at an EU meat inspection conference in Copenhagen to discuss how to respond to new proposed guidelines for improved meat inspections being developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Delegates focused on food safety and the modernisation of meat inspection at the Denmark government-organised meeting, which featured presentations from several food safety experts, including the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and EFSA.
Ate Jelsma, the senior veterinary officer at the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, noted how a pilot project in The Netherlands was better monitoring the spread of harmful bacterium salmonella in pork products.
Birgit Nørrung, vice dean (veterinary medicine), of the University of Copenhagen faculty of health and medical sciences, told delegates control of the main bacteria hazards, including salmonella and trichinella through meat inspection “is possible only through a comprehensive pork carcase safety assurance programme”, with integrated controls applied on-farm and at abattoirs.
And Denmark’s minister of food, agriculture and fisheries acknowledged the importance of modernising meat inspections. “Consumer safety is the core of EU meat inspection. We must not get ill because of hams, steaks or salami. This is, after all, what meat inspection is about. This is why inspection is so important and the reason why we begin February with a conference on meat inspection,” said Mette Gjerskov.
The conference was staged by Denmark because it currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU. It also has a large meat sector, which would have to grapple with EFSA’s guidelines – it issued a first set of recommendations last October on inspecting swine meat. The agency claimed current outdated inspection methods are failing to properly identify harmful pigmeat bacteria, including salmonella.