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The Myth of a Clostridium botulinum hazard in Fresh Meat

Meat Industry Myth

There has been pressure placed on the meat industry by some UK authorities due to the adoption of a guideline widely published as a standard for high care / high risk foods such as smoked salmon. This guideline has been used and quoted in relation to vacuum packed raw meat with the intended use of thorough cooking. Food safety must be a priority, however, not without sound rationale and validation. The following 8 points summarize why Clostridium botulinum is not a significant risk and should not be required to meet the requirements of the guideline, specifically a shelf life of a maximum of 10 days vacuum packed.

  1. Since 1989 there have been 6 incidents in the UK affecting 33 people and 62 since 1922.

  2. From one incident in 1989, 27 people were affected with 1 death from Hazelnut yogurt. If we exclude the 27 people relating to yogurt, this leaves 6 people affected in the UK in the last 29 years.

  3. Out of the 6 incidents, 2 incidents were related to meat affecting 2 people of which 1 died.

  4. Both of these were meat products, (sausage and home preserved pork) that both originated from Poland and were both home produced.

  5. Both were type B toxin which can be either Mesophilic (Proteolytic) OR Psychotropic (Non proteolytic) Clostridium botulinum.

  6. Mesophilic Cl. botulinum growth and toxin production does not occur below 10oC only psychotropic can grow at >3oC.

  7. If the source is carcase (at body temperature, 37oC+) this is will fall into the mesophilic category, therefore, will not grow at less than 10oC.

  8. The guide, currently being utilised in the fresh meat industry, was originally written to cover processed foods for high care, high risk – ready to eat consumption, not fresh meat.

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