Food Safety

For our project we needed to define what spoiled meat actually is. This sounds as a simple question, but we found that there was no clear definition of rotten meat, although we contacted the Voedsel en Waren Authoriteit (VWA, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority). We were told by the VWA that rotten meat is defined by color change or by smell. However, these are rather arbitrary judgments. We did some research on food safety and the European regulations on and around our subject, minced meat.

In the end, we decided that we would define spoiled meat using the guidelines of the European Union (2006, Source (in Dutch)). In these guidelines, they use the Total Aerobic Microbial Count (TAMC) test to define whether minced meat is fit for consumption or not. With this test, one can estimate the amount of Colony Forming Units (CFU) per gram meat. According to the regulations, it is not allowed to find between 10^5.7 and 10^6.7 colonies in more than five taken samples. Apart from the TAMC, the European hygiene guidelines sets specific limits to the presence of E. coli and Salmonella.

We measured the Total Aerobic Microbial Count of minced meat, left at room temperature for different time points. You can check the results here. From the test we concluded that the minced meat used in our project is spoiled after 7 hours at room temperature.

Fig.1 Results of a TAMC (Total Aerobic Microbial Count) test of minced meat, left at room temperature for 24 hours. After 7 hours, the amount of colonies formed from 1 gr of meat reached the critical limit (EU regulations).

Food poisoning

Everyone knows that consumption of rotten meat can cause severe diseases. Microorganisms play a huge role on the rotting process of meat and the diseases resulting from the consumption of rotten meat. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)“Foodborne illness caused by microorganisms is a large and growing public health problem. Most countries, using systems for reporting cases of foodborne illness, have documented significant increases over the past few decades in the incidence of diseases caused by microorganisms in food, including pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, and parasites such as cryptosporidium, cryptospora, trematodes.” (source: World Health Organization)

Our Food Warden will help people with identifying rotten meat and thereby prevent consumption of this meat, thereby reducing the number of people getting sick as a result of the consumption of rotten meat.

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