Research – Report on the equivalence between the disinfection of tools in slaughterhouses and cutting rooms with hot water, at a temperature not lower than 82 °C, and various alternative disinfection systems.


The different tools and utensils used in slaughterhouses and cutting rooms may lead to cross contamination if unsuitable cleaning and disinfecting procedures are used. In this regard, Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin establishes that slaughterhouses and cutting rooms for ungulates as well as poultry and lagomorphs must have facilities for disinfecting

The Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) has assessed several studies carried out in order to establish whether disinfection with four alternative systems may be considered equivalent to that conducted with water supplied at a temperature not less than 82 ºC.
After reviewing the studies, the AESAN Scientific Committee concludes that a notable effort has been made to demonstrate the equivalence of these systems. It is observed in these studies that the use of these compounds leads to reductions in the microorganisms studied which, under the testing conditions, appear to be similar to those obtained with the official method.
However, these studies have methodological limitations (number of repetitions, sampling plan, the microorganisms studied and method of analysis) which prevent establishing this equivalence.
Accordingly, the Committee makes a series of recommendations for conducting these studies: using swabs instead of contact slides; including the analysis of foodborne pathogenic microorganisms of interest in slaughterhouses; including detailed information on the disinfecting products used as well as the method of analysis; harmonising sampling and analysis procedures; guaranteeing the representativeness of the samples taken (it is suggested to take 5 samples per slaughterhouse per day-taken from at least 4 different locations-, using 4 different slaughterhouses in the study, during 5 non-consecutive days, uniformly distributed over a period of 3 months; that is to say, a total of 100 samples); ensuring that all samples analysed are acceptable based on the established criteria for mesophilic aerobes (0-10 cfu/cm2), enterobacteria (0-1 cfu/cm2), as well as the absence/cm2 for the pathogens Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.
Likewise, it is also recommended to draw up a sector-based Guide that, based on the recommendations made in this report, provides a detailed description of the protocol to be followed in order to demonstrate equivalence between the disinfection of tools in slaughterhouses and cutting rooms with hot water supplied at a temperature not less than 82 ºC and disinfection with alternative methods.

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