What Is Being Done to Prevent Infectious Meats?

While is it important that restaurants maintain proper food safety protocols to protect customers, members of the meat industry should also do their part in preventing pathogens from reaching consumers.  This includes making sure animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered with food safety in mind.


It is commonly accepted that healthy animals are less likely to carry food borne pathogens than animals that are sick.  Therefore, those who raise animals need to be sure that their stock is being properly cared for.


The type of food an animal eats could be a part of this.  A recent study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service showed that the use of wet distillers grain with solubles (WDGS) may be linked to a higher occurrence of O157:H7, the most common strain of E. coli.


Other ways animal raisers may try to ensure the health of the animal are through antimicrobials, probiotics, and vaccines.  However, these practices may not lead to a long term reduction of pathogens.  In addition, the use of antimicrobials may actually lead to the development of pathogens that are resistant.


The cleanliness of the cages animals are held in when traveling to slaughter and the condition of the lairage, the pens animals are held prior to slaughter, are also considerations.  Dirty animal cages could lead to further contamination.


The government is also concerned about increased safety in meats.  In January, the USDA proposed new regulations for finding E. coli strains in meat beyond that of O157:H7.


Some experts say that these new regulations shouldn’t put too much extra burden on the meat manufacturers because, when used properly, methods used to control O157:H7 are also effective in controlling other strains.


Regardless of what the feds or anyone else does, restaurants need to do their part to ensure tainted meat does not have a seat at their table.  Watching where the meat comes from and properly handling it once it is received can help the restaurant protect customers from food related illness.


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