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A Qualitative Risk and Benefit Assessment for Visual-Only Post-Mortem Meat Inspection

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
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This study aimed to assess the risks and benefits of visual inspection only during PMMI, in red meat (except pigs) and deer, where regulatory incision and palpation procedures are not carried out.

The species investigated were red meat and large game i.e. cattle, sheep, goats, wild and farmed deer. Each relevant disease or condition were assessed according to the following categories: traditional or visual-only meat inspection; and whether or not they conformed to the criteria for controlled housing (as defined in the research report).

Conditions and diseases which can only be detected by incision and palpation were identified and those relevant to public health, animal health and animal welfare were noted for further assessment.

The identified hazards were qualitatively assessed for the risk they pose to public and animal health and welfare, under conforming and non-conforming production systems. The information was gathered from databases, including VLA VetNet, industry health schemes and Agency databases. Where these did not yield sufficient evidence, any differences in prevalence between conforming and non-conforming systems were qualitatively assessed. Any diseases or conditions which had a higher incidence in non-conforming systems were taken forward for a full risk-benefit assessment, to determine if the risk increased when using visual-only PMMI.

A benefit analysis was carried out to examine the potential public health benefits that might be gained using visual-only inspection.

More information

Background: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently assessing post-mortem meat inspection (PMMI) tasks for a range of livestock species, in order to create a system of meat inspection which is relevant, effective and risk-based. The current PMMI procedures, which consist of visual examination, palpation and incision, have changed little in the last century. These techniques do not detect current foodborne hazards, such as salmonella and campylobacter, and may also give rise to the risk of cross -contamination.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
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Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants