Determine the effectiveness of commercial spray washing systems to remove central
nervous system tissue (CNS) from beef carcasses.
Findings: To determine the efficacy of commercial carcass wash cabinets, 100cm2 swab samples were collected using templates from the aitch bone and 4th thoracic vertebra of carcasses before and after the final carcass wash at five commercial beef packing facilities. Samples were collected from the aitch bone because previous research has shown that GFAP material is cross-contaminated at low levels from the carcass splitting saw. In this study, only 6% of samples tested positive for GFAP on the aitch bone; whereas, a higher level of GFAP contamination (69%) was found on the vertebral column. This higher level of GFAP contamination on the vertebral column was expected because the carcass splitting process redistributes GFAP material, unique to the carcass being split, on the vertebral column. Samples were collected from the 4th thoracic vertebra to determine if carcass wash cabinets rinse away GFAP material not removed during the slaughter process. GFAP levels on the 4th thoracic vertebra were significantly reduced (P < 0.05) by final carcass wash cabinets in 3 of 5 plants. GFAP positive samples on the aitch bone were reduced in 2 of five plants and were zero both before and after in one plant.