Video transcript: Making safer meat

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October 2010

Dr Michael Lee, Animal and Microbial Service, IBERS
Food contamination of meat is linked to faecal contamination in the abattoir. When animals come into the abattoir they often have faeces clinging to their hyde. Even though the animals are cleaned and their trimmed you will still have very small traces of faecal contamination on the hide. When the hide is removed, if faeces is dry then it often becomes and aerosol which can fall back onto the hide or as the hide is being removed any surface which is touched by the hide, if it touches back onto the carcass, for example a hand or a knife, then you have transferrable faecal contamination. Now this level of faecal contamination is so small because if you are talking about an aerosol or by touch then there is no way that they can be seen by the eye. Usually this level of faecal contamination is fine and any normal cooking practice will remove any risk. However, the one chance in a million is you may have some level of E-coli or Listeria monocytogenes attached to that faecal contamination so that is why it is important that we increase the intensity, that we can identify that contamination and, therefore, remove it.

This is an extract of natural chlorophyll which is a nice lime green colour. However, the chlorophyll degrades rapidly to this darker olive green which, as a marker, we cannot use so therefore our aim was to produce a standard stable marker which is much darker and is a higher intensity that the chlorophyll and this will pass through the gut of the animals without degrading and produce the high florescent signal in the faeces. So this is the marker here which we have developed at IBERS.

Following the success of the ruminant products for the faecal markers we have now developed it for poultry to see if we can use the same markers that we have used for ruminants in the poultry sector. At the moment we are at the proof of principle stage but if this is successful then obviously this is very important due to the fact that the majority of food bourne illnesses are associated with poultry such as chickens.