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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360517

Research Project: Developing Safe, Efficient and Environmentally Sound Management Practices for the Use of Animal Manure

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research

Title: Assessment of hygienic practices in beef cattle slaughterhouses and retail shops in Bishoftu, Ethiopia: Implications for public health

item GUTEMA, FANTA - Addis Ababa University
item Agga, Getahun
item ABDI, RETA - Long Island University
item ALEMNESH, JUFARE - Alage Agricultural Technical Vocational Educational Training College
item DUCHATEAU, LUC - Ghent University
item DE ZEUTTER, LIEVEN - Ghent University
item GABRIEL, SARAH - Ghent University

Submitted to: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2021
Publication Date: 3/8/2021
Citation: Gutema, F.D., Agga, G.E., Abdi, R.D., Alemnesh, J., Duchateau, L., De Zeutter, L., Gabriel, S. 2021. Assessment of hygienic practices in beef cattle slaughterhouses and retail shops in Bishoftu, Ethiopia: Implications for public health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18(5),2729.

Interpretive Summary: Diarrheal diseases pose significant global health burden causing high morbidity and mortality particularly in children. Most pathogens that cause diarrhea in humans are foodborne. Consumption of contaminated or improperly cooked beef can lead to infection with these pathogens. Good hygienic practices at the processing plants and keeping beef cold during transportation and storage at retail markets are critical measures to prevent beef contamination and protect the public health. Proper cooking of beef before consumption and maintaining hygiene conditions during food preparation further ensure beef safety. Suboptimal meat hygiene practices observed both at the processing plants and the retail shops can be suitable pathways for meat borne pathogens to reach consumers. Employees at the processing plants and retail shops, and patients with diarrhea were surveyed in Ethiopia to investigate the hygienic status and potential exposure of consumers to a contaminated beef. Although most basic hygienic practices were maintained at the processing and retail markets, potential breaches were also reported. Potential pathogen transfers from the hides and feces were the major sources of beef contamination during beef cattle processing. There was no any cooling facility for beef transportation or during storage at the retail shops. In about one-fifth of the diarrheic patients, exposure to cattle or their feces were reported. In more than three-fourth of the patients, consuming raw or undercooked meat prior to the onset of diarrheal illness was reported. It is more likely that breach in basic hygiene during beef processing and distribution is associated with diarrheal diseases in the diarrheic patients. Frequent hand washing in the food processing, distribution and preparation is a cheaper but efficient way of safeguarding consumer health. Enforcing strict hygienic practices during beef processing and distribution coupled with increased public awareness can also help ensure microbial meat safety.

Technical Abstract: Understanding the potential drivers of microbial meat contamination along the entire meat supply chain is needed to identify targets for interventions to reduce the number of meatborne bacterial outbreaks. We assessed the hygienic practices in cattle slaughterhouses (28 employees) and retail shops (127 employees) through face-to-face interviews and direct personal observations. At the slaughterhouses, stunning, de-hiding and evisceration in vertical position, carcass washing and separate storage of offal were the identified good practices. Lack of hot water baths, absence of a chilling room, infrequent hand washing, insufficiently trained staff and irregular medical check-up were practices that lead to unhygienic handling of carcasses. At the retail shops, cleaning equipment using soap and hot water (81%), storing unsold meat in refrigerators (92%), concrete floors and white painted walls and ceilings were good practices. Adjacently displaying offal and meat (39%), lack of a cold chain, wrapping meat with plastic bags and newspapers, using a plastic or wooden cutting board (57%), infrequent washing of equipment and floors, and inadequately trained employees were practices that could result in unhygienic handling of beef. Our study identified unhygienic practices both at the slaughterhouses and retail shops that can predispose the public to meatborne infections, which could be improved through training and implementation of quality control systems.