The strategy of the European Union in the realm of food safety applies to a complex approach towards production, distribution, and food consumption embracing the entire production circle. The strategy is based on three basic elements which are:
- legal demands concerning the food and feed safety
- scholar advise
- controlling procedures.
The production safety and the constant monitoring of the processes guarantying high quality are the key issues concerning the poultry meet production circle. According to the binding law, all the poultry producers in the European Union are obliged to comply with the demanding standards in the ream of the poultry breeding. The production processes are implemented under a constant supervision of the Veterinary Inspection and each stage of the production process is specified in details – from feeding, through animal welfare on the area of a farm to slaughtering, transportation, and packing. Each production facility is obliged to keep detailed documentation concerning:
- the history of a herd
- pest control substances
- cleaning and disinfection substances applied to the facilities and technological appliances.
Taking care of the high quality of meat, strict regulations concerning animal health are binding on the area of the production facilities including:
- ban on the addition of antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulators to pastures
- ban on enhancing pastures with components influencing sensory or technological value of the meat later than three weeks before slaughtering
- compulsory herd’s examination three weeks prior to slaughtering.
Strict safety norms are applied also during the processes of the poultry meat freezing and packing. The packing systems based on the preservation of sterile environment and the minimizations of the contact of meat with the external factors guarantee that the final product has high quality, ideal flavor and aroma. These processes undergo random controls and are implemented in accordance with the binding EU procedures. The final warranty of the food safety are the labels that contain complex information about the entire production process – country of origin, “best before” date, veterinary number, series number, packing technology, information about storing the product.
Obeying the above mentioned safety standards guarantee full control over the entire poultry meat production cycle. The implementation of the systems based on the documentation and animal health monitoring regulations allow the producers and the consumers to obtain a high quality safe product.
Traceability of meat
Traceability is necessary to ensure the safety of food and reliability of information provided to the consumer. Traceability is necessary especially in the case of food of animal origin, as a tool for risk management facilitating the withdrawal from the market of food which is not safe, which significantly contributes to consumer protection. This is one of the foundations of EU policy with regard to food safety, laid down in Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002.
In practice, every producer operating on the food market is obliged to implement the procedures on a „one step backwards – one step forwards” basis, i.e. to identify all the entities that supplied him a given foodstuff, feed, animal or any substance which will be added to food. Producers must also create a system of identification of businesses to whom their products were delivered. All information should be easily and immediately accessible at the request of relevant authorities. Also, on a practical level, every consumer may learn on a daily basis about the advantages of the traceability system by reading food labels containing all information necessary to identify the product.
Owing to the traceability system implemented in the entire European Union, there is a possibility to locate food, feed, animal or any substance added to food at all stages of production, processing, and distribution. This is a tool which proves crucial in the case of any suspicion as to the safety of a given lot of food. Owing to this, consumers may feel safe and the producers and relevant authorities may immediately react and quickly locate every food that potentially threatens the health of consumers, while all participants have clearly defined tasks and responsibilities. Of course such situations are not common since food, including poultry and poultry products produced in the European Union,is safe. Nevertheless, owing to the efficient operation of the traceability system it was certainly possible to prevent crises whose consequences are difficult to predict.
In addition, under the Quality Assurance for Food Products – QAFP System, all products bearing the QAFP sign are traceable at every stage of production. The entities that participate in the QAFP system make every effort to implement appropriate procedures in this regard and create and keep the relevant documentation. Owing to this, when buying poultry or poultry products bearing the QAFP logo, the consumer, apart from having the possibility to find exhaustive information on the label, can be sure that each stage and each ingredient in the production process was carefully monitored.