Chapter 17 - Ante and Post-mortem Procedures, Dispositions, Monitoring and Controls - Meat Species, Ostriches, Rheas and Emus
17.10 Microbial Controls

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Operators are expected to manufacture meat products that do not bear excessive amounts of microbial organisms and do not pose a health risk due to the presence of microbial pathogens. To achieve this goal certain microbial control interventions are available and a number of monitoring programs are required to verify the hygienic aspect of dressing procedures.

17.10.1 Testing for Generic E. Coli

Red Meats exported to the USA are required to be tested for generic E. coli according to the USA section of Chapter 11. The CFIA is considering adopting a similar testing protocol.

17.10.2 Testing for Salmonella

Red Meats exported to the USA are required to be tested for Salmonella according to the USA section of Chapter 11. The CFIA is considering adopting a similar testing protocol.

17.10.3 E. Coli O157:H7 Policy

Because of the potential severe consequences linked to the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in raw beef, all operators of meat registered establishments handling raw beef are required to clearly indicate in their HACCP system that E. coli O157:H7 is a likely hazard associated with raw beef. The operators are also to implement pathogen reduction step(s) to manage the risk, if not already in place, to validate their HACCP system as per established guidelines and to implement verification procedures. Inspection personnel will take appropriate regulatory measures if procedures are found incomplete or ineffective.

See Chapter 4 for a description of the E. coli O157:H7 policy.

17.10.4 Microbial Control Interventions for the Treatment of Carcasses and Their Parts

Only microbial control interventions approved by Health Canada can be used to treat raw carcasses and their parts in establishments registered under the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.

The operator must further validate the intervention to demonstrate that the actual operating conditions in the establishment are meeting Health Canada's approved outcomes (e.g. the intervention can be considered as a processing aid, rather than a food additive).

Approved microbial control interventions (processing aids and food additives) for use in Canada are listed in the document entitled "Antimicrobials used on meat and poultry surfaces - Comparison of antimicrobial interventions used in the US and in Canada" prepared by Health Canada. A copy of this document can be obtained by contacting the Chemical Health Hazard Assessment Division of Health Canada at CHHAD_BCS@hc-sc.gc.ca. A request can also be made to receive amendments via electronic mail.

In addition to listing interventions, as far as possible, the Health Canada's document normally details process parameters that would support the use of the intervention as a processing aid.

17.10.4.1 Approval of Microbial Control Intervention

The operator who wishes to use a microbial control intervention in a registered establishment shall present a proposed control program to the Veterinarian in Charge or the Inspector in Charge who will contact the Area Program Specialist regarding the review and approval of the program. The proposed control program will need to be assessed and may involve a review by the National Program Specialist and Health Canada. In the case of a microbial control intervention that is not currently approved by Health Canada, the submission should include relevant scientific data. Requests for use of a new antimicrobial substance (food additive or a processing aid), not listed in the comparative table mentioned above, should be submitted to Health Canada for approval. Petitioners may refer to the Guide for the Preparation of Submissions on New Food Additives.

Requirements for submitted data are similar for food additives and processing aids. If an application is considered a processing aid, a letter of opinion will be issued. If an application is considered a food additive, an amendment to the Food and Drug Regulations may be necessary.

Operators should be advised that issuance of a letter of opinion for processing aid applications will depend on the quality and completeness of the data submitted to Health Canada.

17.10.4.2 General Principles for the Use of Microbial Control Interventions

The following general principles for the use of microbial control interventions must be respected:

  • The microbial control intervention must be approved by Health Canada for the intended use. Approved interventions appear on Health Canada's list entitled "Antimicrobials used on meat and poultry surfaces - Comparison of antimicrobial interventions used in the US and in Canada".
  • The microbial control intervention must be validated for use in the establishment.
  • Chemical components entering into contact with meat products must be of food-grade quality and the operator must demonstrate that residues on the meat products have no health significance (e.g. they conform to Food Chemicals Codex specifications where such specifications exist).
  • The microbial control intervention must not affect the organoleptic characteristics of meat products offered for sale to consumers.
  • Treated meat products must be appropriately labelled (e.g. use of a food additive versus a processing aid).
  • The use of a microbial control intervention must not create a health and safety risk to any person entering the establishment. Health and safety requirements that must be implemented by the operator are detailed in Chapter 3 of this manual.
  • Hazards associated with the use of a microbial control intervention must be controlled by the establishment Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
  • The operator must develop, implement and maintain a control program for the validated microbial control intervention that describes, as applicable, the:
    • equipment used and methods to assure the intervention does not create any health and safety hazard (see Chapter 3 of the Manual for requirements);
    • type, dosage, and concentration of the product used;
    • formula for preparing solutions;
    • operating parameters required to achieve performance, for example:
      • the site where the microbial control intervention is applied (e.g. pre-evisceration, post-evisceration before chilling, etc.);
      • the rate of application of the solution including flow rate and pressure;
      • the temperature of the solution;
      • the length of time meat products are directly exposed to the solution;
      • the meat products dripping time after exposure to the solution; etc.
    • actions to be taken if the system is found to be operating out of compliance;
    • training provided to plant employees;
    • cleaning procedures, validated by bacteriological tests, for cleaning all pipes, tanks, pumps, etc. where microbial control solutions are recirculated;
    • testing of solutions as delivered (to a minimum of every 4 hours) to verify compliance with established limits (e.g. time, temperature, and minimum concentration to ensure efficacy);
    • actions to be taken in the event of a line stoppage (e.g. removal of carcasses and products from tanks, spraying cabinets; other treatment required, for example: segregation and, as applicable, the disposal of affected carcasses or parts subjected to excess time and/or temperature and/or concentration of treatment solution, or storage of the affected product pending submission of all information requested by the CFIA and/or Health Canada (HC) including test results (conducted at the operator's expense), as required for a health risk assessment; and
    • monitoring of the process with respect, but not limited, to:
      • frequency of monitoring;
      • records to be maintained (e.g. the method of application of the microbial control product, i.e. concentration limits; temperature limits; immersion/spray/exposure time; flow rate and pressure; rinsing procedures); and
      • deviation procedures when the intervention is found out of compliance.

17.10.5 Chlorine and Chlorine Derivatives for Treating Potable Water

This section is currently under review.

17.10.6 Steam or Hot Water Vacuuming

Fecal, ingesta and other extraneous (such as hair and wool) contamination may be removed using knife trimming and/or vacuuming with hot water or steam. The proper use of hot water or steam vacuuming can reduce bacterial load; however, in order to reduce the spreading of bacterial contamination to adjacent areas, this type of intervention shall only be used before a full carcass decontamination intervention such as a post-evisceration carcass wash with a microbial reduction solution (e.g. lactic acid spray) or a steam or hot water carcass intervention. The operator will develop and incorporate control procedures for monitoring, deviation and verification purposes into their HACCP system.

Vacuuming with hot water or steam is limited to removing visible fecal and ingesta contaminations with greatest dimension of 2.5 cm or less. Fecal and ingesta contamination exceeding 2.5 cm must be removed by knife trimming before a decontamination intervention is performed by vacuuming with hot water or steam. The removal of open abscesses, septic bruises, parasites and parasitic lesions, and lactating udders must be done only by knife trimming.

The minimum standards for equipment used as a hot water or steam vacuum system are as follows:

  • The system must provide accurate temperature and vacuum readings. Once the temperature and vacuum parameters are set at the beginning of operation, controls shall be in place to ensure and demonstrate that the system continues to function properly and without significant fluctuation throughout the day.
  • The system must be capable of delivering and maintaining water or steam temperature at a minimum of 82°C at the carcass surface. The temperature recording device should measure the hot water or steam temperature as close to the carcass surface as possible.
  • The vacuuming pressure must be set in such a manner that it can sufficiently remove any steam and water from the surface of the vacuum area to prevent dripping.
  • To ensure that the vacuum head is sanitized between each use, the vacuum head must be subjected continuously to a minimum of 82°C during its use. Alternatively, the vacuum head can be sanitized in 82°C water between carcasses. Alternate sanitation procedures shall be approved by the Veterinarian in Charge in consultation with the Regional Veterinary Officer and the Area Red Meat Program Specialist before their use is allowed.
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