The objective of meat inspection is to promote animal and public health by preventing, detecting, and controlling hazards originating from animals. With the improvements of sanitary level in pig herds, the hazards profile has shifted and the inspection procedures no longer target major foodborne pathogens (i.e., not risk based). Additionally, carcass manipulations performed when searching for macroscopic lesions can lead to cross-contamination. We therefore developed a stochastic model to quantitatively describe cross-contamination when consecutive carcasses are submitted to classic inspection procedures. The microbial hazard used to illustrate the model was Salmonella, the data set was obtained from Brazilian slaughterhouses, and some simplifying assumptions were made. The model predicted that due to cross-contamination during inspection, the prevalence of contaminated carcass surfaces increased from 1.2% to 95.7%, whereas the mean contamination on contaminated surfaces decreased from 1 logCFU/cm² to −0.87 logCFU/cm², and the standard deviations decreased from 0.65 to 0.19. These results are explained by the fact that, due to carcass manipulations with hands, knives, and hooks, including the cutting of contaminated lymph nodes, Salmonella is transferred to previously uncontaminated carcasses, but in small quantities. These small quantities can easily go undetected during sampling. Sensitivity analyses gave insight into the model performance and showed that the touching and cutting of lymph nodes during inspection can be an important source of carcass contamination. The model can serve as a tool to support discussions on the modernization of pig carcass inspection.
- Carcass inspection
- Mathematical modeling