Food Safety Practices in the U.S. Meat Slaughter and Processing Industry: Changes from 2005 to 2015
Meat slaughter establishments use a multipronged approach to ensure beef and pork products are safe for human consumption. To determine the approaches most commonly used, we conducted a national survey of federally inspected meat slaughter and processing establishments (376 completed surveys, 66% response rate) in 2015. We compared the results with a survey that was conducted in 2005, albeit of potentially different establishments, by using a similar questionnaire and similar data collection methods, thus allowing for an evaluation of trends in food safety practices over time. The use of some food safety practices has increased over the 10-yr time period, whereas others remained the same or decreased. For example, the use of chemical sanitizers or hot water for food contact surfaces and tools increased from 51 to 93%. As another example, microbiological testing of raw meat after fabrication, in addition to that required by regulation, increased from 50 to 72%. However, the use of organic acid rinse on carcasses in the slaughter area remained the same, at 66% of establishments. Written policies and procedures to control the use of hazardous chemicals decreased from 75 to 65% of establishments. The survey findings can be used to characterize food safety practices and technologies in the meat slaughter and processing industry and identify areas for improvement.