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FSA considers changes to meat rules during Muslim holidays

Consultation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is considering changes to the rules on meat sales during religious holidays.

Qurbani is a religious practice performed during Eid al-Adha. Some Muslims like to collect meat and offal soon after slaughtering, as this marks the beginning of the festival. Eid al-Adha is a four-day Islamic festival, but the exact date varies from year to year.

As the product cannot go through the normal refrigeration process before leaving the slaughterhouse for the holidays, pathogens may grow in abundance, increasing the risk of illness.

Industry representatives asked the FSA to study alternatives and existing rules for serving Qurbani meat and offal during Eid al-Adha. In Kourbany, part of the animals are donated to charity, another part is kept at home and a third is donated to relatives or friends. Slaughterhouses are currently allowed to supply non-compliant meat, as long as certain mitigation measures are followed.

Ongoing comment period
The agency is discussing whether it should Comments on amendments to the refrigeration requirements for Qurbani meat and offal served by slaughterhouses in England and Wales during Eid al-Adha. Comments are open until September 11, 2022.

FSA policy director Rebecca Sudworth said Qurbani meat should be offered to those who wish to prepare and eat it.

“This consultation and our dialogue with authorities in the Muslim community expanded discussions to ensure this practice can continue while providing the highest possible standards of food safety and hygiene to protect consumers ,”she says.

The FSA commissioned an assessment to understand the risk differences in allowing meat and offal to be served to consumers without the normal refrigeration process.

Pathogens assessed were Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), and Clostridium perfringens. It also covers the growth characteristics and prevalence of beef, lamb, goat and offal.

Meat is usually purchased on the day of slaughter and eaten quickly, reducing the chance of pathogen growth. However, temperature abuse during transport can be a problem.

Practical scale
Risk assessment takes into account summer 2021 Three surveys targeting food businesses, official veterinarians and consumers. The surveys collected information on the animal origin of the Qurbani, quality assurance at the slaughterhouse, refrigeration reached after slaughter, consumer access, and consumer storage and cooking behavior.

The Consumer Response Questionnaire showed that 28 of the 71 respondents reported working in Qurbani in the UK. Eleven of them said they received guts.

Currently only slaughterhouses in England and Wales offer Qurbani meat and offal. There is still little or no demand in Scotland and Northern Ireland. An estimated 38 companies in the UK supply Qurbani meat. On average, the total throughput on day 1 of the Qurbani epoch is double that of the regular day.

Of the 20 respondents who offered Qurbani red meat, 2 said the animals were sourced by customers, 15 sourced animals from farms and livestock markets, and three gave unclear s answer.

Operating results and consumption trends
Nine offers Kurba The slaughterhouse of Nimba has the status of needing urgent improvement or needing improvement after the audit according to the official veterinarian’s reply.

Based on an inspection of Qurbani’s operating procedures, five violations were identified, including failure to provide consumer information, unpackaged meat prior to shipment, meat not stored under active refrigeration prior to shipment and meat stored under active refrigeration for less than 30 minutes.

Information from the food establishment questionnaire found that the majority of carcasses offered during Qurbani 2021 were supplied above the regulatory limit of 7 degrees Celsius (44.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Some also reported selling offal at temperatures above legal limits.

In 2021, the majority of meat and offal is delivered to consumers through butchers or agents, but some is collected directly from slaughterhouses. Overall, 21 of 28 consumers said they would refrigerate or freeze Qurbani when they got home. The duo reported marinating it at room temperature. One-third of consumers cooked medium-rare or pink Qurbani in the middle.

Under typical conditions, there is no significant difference in consumer health risk compared to normal refrigeration processes. However, in a worst-case scenario, Salmonella and STEC levels could increase, posing a greater risk to the public.

Significant uncertainties remain, such as the temperature of carcasses and offal when they reach consumers, epidemiological data linking disease to consumption of Qurbani meat and offal, and Prevalence and levels of three pathogens.

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