Codex agrees on Salmonella and parasite control guidelines

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts food safety guidelines

Related tags: Codex alimentarius, Food, Food safety

Guidelines for the control of Salmonella in beef and pork and on hygiene to control foodborne parasites were among the decisions taken during the first day of the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting.

The commission also agreed on a maximum level of inorganic arsenic in husked rice and maximum limits for pesticide residues in food during the discussions in Rome, Italy.

The Codex Alimentarius is a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Controlling Salmonella in beef and pork

Beef and pork meat can be contaminated with various bacteria including non-typhoidal Salmonella. ​Although most cases are mild, Salmonella causes an estimated 60,000 deaths annually.

The guidelines adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (see here) focus on practices from primary production to processing to prevent, reduce, or eliminate Salmonella in fresh beef and pork.

Measures that may impact on control of Salmonella at the processing stage include personal equipment and the environment being kept clean and disinfected as required, water accumulation on the floor should be avoided and good floor drainage design ensured and equipment should be maintained and designed to avoid contamination and build-up of organic material.

Line speeds at post mortem inspection, types of chilling of carcasses, use of packaging technology and preservation with various chemicals and extracts are other areas to mitigate Salmonella in the guidance

Consumer education should focus on handling, hand washing, cooking, storage, thawing, prevention of cross contamination, and prevention of temperature abuse.

Parasite control guidance

Guidelines adopted at the meeting (see here) provide information on hygienic production of various types of foods to control parasites and protect health.

Certain foods can be contaminated with different parasites including Toxoplasma gondii ​and Taenia solium​ (pork tapeworm) which can be carried by animals and transmitted to humans when they eat contaminated meat that is raw or undercooked.

It is estimated that over two billion people are currently infected by foodborne parasites.

Three key ways to control foodborne parasites are to prevent infection in farmed food animals, prevent contamination of fresh and processed foods, and inactivate parasites during processing (e.g. freezing, heat treatment).

During a parasite hazard analysis, producers should consider how the product will be further processed, prepared and consumed to determine appropriate parasite control measures.

Various processes have been shown to control parasites but the conditions needed to inactivate them are subject to substantial variability depending on the parasites, the food matrix and the location of parasites in the food matrix.

Control measures may include: freezing, heat treatment, salting, drying, high pressure processing, filtration, sedimentation, UV light, ozone and irradiation, according to the guidelines.

Education is an important component of consumer awareness of foodborne parasite hazards and in some cases may be the only practical option available.

Arsenic guidance

The Codex Alimentarius Commission recommends that no more than 0.35 mg/kg of inorganic arsenic​ should be allowed in husked rice (paddy rice from which the husk only has been removed, also known as brown rice or cargo rice).

The EU, and others, indicated a preference for a lower ML of 0.25 mg/kg as it would reduce dietary exposure by almost 10% and would be compatible with ML of 0.2 mg/kg for polished rice.

India did not support the level due to a belief that not all the concentration data had been taken into account in setting it, instead suggesting a draft ML of 0.5 mg/kg.

Consumers International opposed this proposal, because it was not expected to meaningfully reduce consumers’ exposure to inorganic arsenic or the associated human health risk.

The limit of 0.35 mg/kg was set based on the understanding it will be reviewed three years after the implementation of the Code of Practice for prevention and reduction of arsenic in rice​.

Related topics: Policy, Food Safety & Quality

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