More fines for faeces on meat, but inspectors say public not at risk

Fines for unhygienic practices in slaughter houses, such as faecal matter on carcasses and equipment, have doubled to 49 compared to last year, RTL Nieuws reported at the weekend.

Health and safety organisation NVWA published a report on its website which signals the increase in fines but said there is no risk to public health.

RTL Nieuws requested more information and found the number of fines had risen significantly, from 39 in the previous two years to 49 in the last year. ‘Slaughter houses have evidently not made hygiene a priority. They will have to try harder,’ NVWA chief inspector Jan Meijer told RTL.

Slaughterhouse trade organisation COV says the findings ‘merit attention’ but that in the light of 17 million processed animals the fines only represent a limited number of infractions.

However, RTL writes, the norm for infractions is zero and the real number of instances is much higher because fines are preceded by a warning. NWVA random checks also showed that 1 in 11 carcasses had manure smears up, from 1 in 14 in previous years.

Meat processors lack experience to cut the meat away from the intestines, slaughterhouse workers told RTL. Nicks to the intestines lead to faecal matter ending up in the carcasses.

The speed of the assembly line makes things worse and although workers can stop the line to cut away the contaminated pieces, few do. ‘If you do that you will have a problem. The contaminated meat is usually rinsed off or scraped off which means the bacteria are spread all over the carcass,’ one worker said.

The COV denies that workers have too little time to remove the intestines. They are also allowed to stop the line to cut off contaminated meat, it stated.

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