In spite of the statutory meat inspection at abattoirs, Taenia saginata cysticercus infection in cattle
remains an economically important parasitic disease for the livestock industry by affecting food safety.
The routinely performed standard meat inspection protocol has a low diagnostic sensitivity for the
detection of T. saginata cysticerci infections. Therefore, an abattoir trial aiming to increase the detection
level was undertaken. In three EU-approved abattoirs, several additional heart incisions were performed
in a total of 1088 slaughtered cattle originating from 832 farms throughout Switzerland. Cysticerci as
putative parasitic lesions were classified by visual examination during meat inspection and confirmed
microscopically and/or by molecular analyses. With the EU-approved routine meat inspection, bovine
cysticercosis was diagnosed in 1.8% (20/1088) of the slaughtered animals. Additional incisions into the
heart muscle revealed a further 29 cases, indicating that the prevalence was at least 4.5%. All infected
animals originated from individual farms. This straightforward technique had a significantly higher
sensitivity and is feasible for routine practice. It also confirms that the prevalence of this zoonotic
parasite in the cattle population is underestimated based on the routine abattoir reports.