The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) has agreed to draft guidelines for the control of Trichinella spp in pork, marking a major victory for the US pork industry, according to the National Pork Producers’ Council (NPPC).
The guidelines, which were agreed to a recent CCFH meeting in Lima, Peru (17-21 November), will now move to the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s (CAC) next meeting for adoption in July for 2015, said the NPPC.
The CAC was established by FAO and WHO in 1963 to develop harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.
"Due in large part to the efforts of NPPC, the global guidelines will provide a way for countries to define negligible risk for Trichinella and establish methods for monitoring the parasite," said a report on the meeting by the NPPC.
"A globally-agreed-to and science-based control, monitoring and verification system containing these elements will greatly increase confidence in the safety of pork and ensure consumer health protection."
The Council said it hoped the creation of an international Codex standard would remove some of the costly burden faced by US pork exporters as many countries currently require additional trichinae testing as a precondition to accepting fresh chilled US pork exports.
The NPPC’s chief veterinarian Dr Liz Wagstrom and deputy director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary & Technical Issues Courtney Knupp were present at the meeting, as well as National Pork Board assistant vice-president of science and technology Dave Pyburn.
A preliminary report on a risk-based approach for the control of Trichinella spp in pigs, from a FAO/WHO meeting, was published on 24 October 2014. It said that a summary of Trichinella spp, isolated from pigs in both Europe and the Americas over a similar period of time, indicated that infected domestic animals were predominantly from herds not kept in controlled housing systems.
Data from 23 countries, including the US, gave negative results for more than 200m pigs in controlled housing systems. However, it was not uncommon for many of those same countries to report test-positive pigs in non-controlled housing systems, said the report.
In terms of a risk-based approach for Trichinella spp, the report said that control measures could include biosecurity controls at farm level to limit the likelihood of infection, and food safety controls, in the form of testing at the slaughterhouse, to monitor the absence of infected pigs.
The official report for the meeting in Lima has not yet been published.