The results of traditional (incision) and risk-based (visual) postmortem inspection procedures were compared on groups of approximately 30,000 pigs. The performance characteristics used as a basis for comparison included the non-detection rates of grossly detectable abnormalities, the microbiological contamination rates of carcases and boned product, the association of reactive lymph nodes with carcase condemnation and the achievement of ‘finished product standards’ for ‘wholesomeness’ It was estimated that 6 per cent of all cases of abscessation and 28 per cent of all cases of arthritis were undetected by the traditional method, and the comparable figures for the risk-based procedure were 19 per cent and 39 per cent. However, when the rates of contamination of undetected abnormalities with foodborne hazards and other carcase contamination parameters were taken into account, it was concluded that both inspection systems were likely to result in a very similar level of consumer protection. Any increase in potential exposure to foodborne hazards in the abnormalities undetected by risk-based inspection would be insignificant in comparison with the potential exposure to foodborne hazards resulting from contaminated ‘normal’ lymph nodes and carcase surfaces. There were no statistically significant differences between the two procedures in the contamination rates of pre-chill carcases or boned retail products with Salmonella and Yersinia species.
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