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Microbiological criteria for mechanically separated meat

Foodstuffs should not contain micro-organisms or their toxins or metabolites in quantities that present an unacceptable risk for human health. The safety of foodstuffs is mainly ensured by a preventive approach, such as implementation of good hygiene practices and application of procedures based on hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) principles. Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 contains microbiological criteria for minced meat, meat preparations and mechanically separated meat/micro-organism combinations, above which a foodstuff should be considered unacceptably contaminated with the micro-organisms for which the criteria are set.

Testing against the criteria in the legislation should be undertaken when validating or verifying the correct functioning of systems in place. In addition FBOs should determine shelf-life by a strict testing programme to ensure that the criteria are met over the entire intended shelf-life of the product. The FSAI has provided information on this in Guidance Note 18 on 'The Determination of Product Shelf-Life'.

The Annex to Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 contains food safety criteria for:

  • Minced meat and meat preparations intended to be eaten raw
  • Minced meat and meat preparations made from poultry meat intended to be eaten cooked
  • Minced meat and meat preparations made from other species than poultry intended to be eaten cooked
  • Mechanically separated meat (MSM)

and the Annex also contains Process Hygiene criteria for:

  • Minced meat
  • Mechanically separated meat (MSM)
  • Meat preparations