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Food Chain Information: Data Quality and Usefulness in Meat Inspection in Portugal

Gomes-Neves, Eduarda, Muller, Alexandra, Correia, Andre, Capas-Peneda, Sara, Carvalho, Marcia, Vieira, Sara, Cardoso, Margarida Fonseca
Journal of food protection 2018 v.81 no.11 pp. 1890-1896
European Union, biological hazards, cattle, data quality, disease occurrence, drug therapy, farmers, farms, food chain, health status, meat inspection, necropsy, public health, red meat, slaughterhouses, small ruminants, swine, Portugal
Food chain information (FCI) is a mandatory component of meat inspection in the European Union. In Portugal there has been no assessment of FCI regarding risk-based meat inspection. The goal of the present study was to assess the quality and the usefulness of data provided by farmers. A total of 1,694 reports (989 for bovine animals, 575 for swine, and 130 for small ruminants) submitted to nine red meat slaughterhouses between September 2015 and January 2017 were analyzed. These reports covered a total of 79,889 animals. Overall, information was provided for the majority of the general identification items. To assess the quality of the information on health status, medication, disease occurrence, diagnostic tests, and results of previous ante- and postmortem exams, responses were classified as plausible, “nothing to declare,” invalid, and nonresponse. Plausible information was provided by farmers on health status, medication, tests, and diseases on 82.7, 24.6, 5.4, and 0.1% of the FCI forms, respectively. More than 70% of the responses in all categories except health status were “nothing to declare.” In pigs, when comparing ante- and postmortem inspection results with the corresponding FCI, no relevant contribution of the FCI was observed. Inaccurate or irrelevant information was provided for the majority of the detailed questions, impeding the formulation of appropriate risk-based meat inspection decisions. Farmers seem to have difficulty providing specific information. Better forms and better training are needed. Information on the prevalence of biological hazards relevant to public health currently is not available. Our results support the need to improve the systems used to obtain and integrate relevant information from the farm to the slaughterhouse.