Antimicrobial interventions

The complexity of the pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest environment of the food supply chain makes it impossible to control all potential sources of microbial contamination, as opportunities for contamination arise at many points. Thus, multiple control measures must be implanted throughout the food production and processing system to ensure the wholesomeness of the final product.

An intervention is a procedure or process - mechanical or human -that significantly reduces the number of pathogens and other microorganisms present on a meat surface, be it a carcase or carcase piece. Using interventions can consequently lead to improvements in shelf life of the fresh or further processed product.

Interventions can be broken into Chemical or Physical and may be applied to the entire carcass or product as a spray, deluge or immersion treatment, or may be applied to small sections as spot treatment. Specific areas to be treated can be identified visually, or using a number of instrumental techniques.

Intervention technologies and new technologies are continually being developed to help processors to meet the increasingly stringent microbiological criteria that are being applied through the red meat supply chain. Regulatory bodies in a number of countries are accepting the use of intervention technologies as part of the fresh meat processing chain.

Each intervention treatment is considered in terms of its microbial efficacy, food safety issues, advantages and limitations of the technology, the current regulatory status, market access and potential customer issues. The food safety technologies described can be applied at one or more points in the supply chain.

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