Ensuring the safety of meat calls for control throughout the food chain from the farm of origin, inspection before and after slaughter, to the handling and storage of meat and the products until the time it is consumed.
The Codex Alimentarius commission has elaborated (besides meat inspection Codes) the Recommended International Code of Hygiene Practice for Fresh Meat and the Recommended International Code of Hygienic Practice for Poultry Processing which describe the minimum hygiene requirements for safe meat and poultry production.
The application of these Codes can be an important step towards the targets:
a) That the food will not cause infection or intoxication when properly prepared; b) Does not contain residues (of pesticides, veterinary drugs and heavy metals) in excess of established limits; c) Is free from disease; d) Free from obvious contamination; e) Free from defects generally recognised as objectionable; f) Has been produced under adequate hygienic control; g) Fulfils the expectation of the consumer in regard to composition.
The Codex Alimentarius commission guidelines include advice on the construction of abattoirs and the facilities required; control of pests, quality of water for cleaning and disinfection; rules of meat inspection and hygienic practices (including supervision by a veterinary inspector).
The responsibility for the production of safe and wholesome meat is normally shared by the industry and the controlling authority. This requires a controlling authority which is adequately resourced and has the legal power to enforce the requirements and which should be independent of the management of the establishment where the meat is produced.