[en] Several bacterial indicators are used to evaluate the hygiene of the meat slaughtering process. The objectives of this study were to assess the Belgian baseline of hygienic indicators and the relationship between the indicators and zoonotic agents, in order to establish hygiene indicator criteria for carcasses and meat of beef, pork and poultry. The study used the results from the official Belgian surveillance plan from 2000 to 2003, which included the monitoring of counts for E. coli (ECC), Enterobacteriaceae (EC), aerobic colonies (ACC) and Pseudomonas. The sampling method was the wet and dry swabbing technique for beef and pork carcasses, and neck skin excision for chicken and layer carcasses. The 75th and 95th percentiles of ECC were –0.20 and 0.95 log cfu/cm2 for beef carcasses, 1.20 and 2.32 log cfu/cm2 for pork carcasses, and 4.05 and 5.24 log cfu/g for chicken carcasses. The aerobic colony counts were between 2.1 and 4.5 log cfu/cm2 or /g higher than those of ECC for cattle, pork and poultry. For beef and pork carcasses, a significant correlation between ECC, EC and ACC was shown between each parameter. ECC (for pork and beef samples), and EC (in pork carcasses) were detected at significantly higher levels in samples contaminated with Salmonella. In poultry samples, ECC were in general higher for samples containing Salmonella or Campylobacter. This study showed that E. coli may be considered as a good indicator for enteric zoonotic agents such as Salmonella for beef, pork and poultry, and Campylobacter in poultry meat samples.
Agence Fédérale pour la Sécurité de la Chaîne Alimentaire - AFSCA