DURING PROCESSING AND DISTRIBUTION
The final stage in the red meat and livestock supply chain in Australia involves processing and distribution. During this stage rigorous systems, standards and controls remain in place to ensure that only the safest, most hygienic products are provided to customers. These systems include:
- The Australian Standard
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Inspection Services
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Health Certificate
- On-plant product traceability
- Microbial assessment and monitoring programs
- Distribution protocols
The Australian Standard
All export licensed processing plants operate under the Australia Standard (AS) for Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (AS4696:2007) which is based on world’s best practice and is consistent with the ISO 9002:1994 standard.
Australia’s Federal Government has gone even further, additionally mandating that Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based quality assurance programs be adopted for all Australian export processors and abattoirs.
This underpins Australia’s processing plants food safety systems, allowing consumers of Australian red meat to consume confidently, knowing they could not purchase safer meat anywhere.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Inspection Services
When it comes to exporting Australian red meat or livestock products, international consumers can be confident that Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Inspection Services qualified veterinarians and inspectors daily:
- Carry out hygiene inspections before export operations begin
- Monitor quality assurance and meat safety throughout the production process
- Conduct ante-mortem and post-mortem health inspections to ensure the safety and suitability of export products for human consumption.
This continual third party inspection ensures standards in Australia’s meat export processing plants remain at the highest level.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Health Certificate
Following inspections, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will issue a formal Health Certificate.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Health Certificate certifies that meat produced by the export meat processor has received an ante-mortem and post-mortem veterinary inspection and is suitable for human consumption. The Certificate verifies that the meat has been processed hygienically from animals free from diseases.
This ensures that the integrity of the product has been maintained to this point.
On-plant product traceability
Despite reaching almost the final point in the red meat and livestock supply chain, rigorous traceability efforts continue in order to provide consumers with meat that can be traced back to the property of birth.
Government legislation underpins the traceability systems in all Australian meat export processing plants. This means processors must accurately record and upload individual animal data to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).
This legislated traceability removes any doubt from consumer’s minds as to the safety and integrity of the Australian product of their choice.
Microbial assessment and monitoring programs
In addition to these specific meat safety systems Australia operates ongoing programs within processing plants as a means of mitigating the risk of problems occurring. These include:
- The Generic E. coli and Salmonella Monitoring Program which monitors carcase surfaces; and
- The National Residue Survey (NRS) to ensure that any residue occurrence are within acceptable limits.
This constant vigilance is the final guarantee needed to illustrate meat from Australia is the safest in the world.
Now that the meat has been processed and individually boxed with traceability still intact, the cartons are loaded into refrigerated containers which are then inspected and sealed under the supervision of Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The container is not reopened until it reaches its final destination. Temperature control is closely monitored throughout the journey to ensure product integrity upon arrival.
The integrity of the system within Australia is now complete. Consumers can have confidence in their choice of Australian red meat product.
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Did You Know...
Australia holds a disease free status for FMD and TSE (BSE or 'mad-cows' disease and Scrapie)
The Australian red meat industry works closely with state and federal government agencies to ensure Australia’s meat safety systems remain world class.
Australian red meat —
Safe, healthy and delicious.