The use of slaughter by-products as food is a steadily growing market. The export of such products is thereby of increasing interest. Because data on the microbiological status are widely lacking, the present study determined the total viable counts (TVC) and Enterobacteriaceae of 345 slaughter by-products from different animal species (pig, cattle, poultry) and product categories (feet, red slaughter products, white slaughter products, meat-processing products).
Compared to the other categories and animal species, the following findings were notable: TVC results from the category of bovine white slaughter organs (22 % of the values between 6.0 and 7.0 log cfu/g, 17 % of the values >7.0 log cfu/g) and Enterobacteriaceae results from the category of poultry meat-processing products (59 % of the values between 3.0 and 4.0 log cfu/g, 24 % of the values >4.0 log cfu/g). The process hygiene criteria specified for the export of different categories of pork products to China proved to be actually practicable and the great majority of the examined pork products met the limits. Applying the criteria for pork products to the examined bovine and poultry products showed that these criteria seem (under certain conditions) also applicable for bovine and poultry products.
For determination of the reasons for the increased values (of certain product categories and animal species), a detailed, abattoir-specific process analysis is required. Basically, abattoirs supplying slaughter by-products to the food chain should perform microbiological examinations of their products as part of the self-control process.