Hygiene and welfare evaluation of pigs slaughtered in agritourisms

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Rina Mazzette *
Francesca Piras
Vanessa Agus
Gabriella Porcheddu
Giuseppe Fois
Simonetta Gianna Consolati
(*) Corresponding Author:
Rina Mazzette | rmazzett@uniss.it

Abstract

The slaughtering procedures at agritourism farms must be carried out in accordance with the general and hygiene requirements of Regulations (EC) No 852 and 853/2004. In addition, regional laws define minimum requirements allowing some flexibility. Piglets and finishing pigs are the most frequently slaughtered animal in Sardinian agritourism farms. The aim of the present survey was to evaluate: the general and hygiene requirements of outbuilding slaughterhouses in agritourisms; the animal welfare indicators; the microbial contamination of piglets and finishing pigs carcasses. Six agritourisms outbuilding slaughterhouses – EU-approved – were investigated. General and hygiene requirements of outbuilding slaughterhouses and animal welfare indicators of 68 piglets and 5 finishing pigs were evaluated by mean of a checklist. The following parameters were determined on 45 piglets and 5 finishing pigs carcasses: i) pH 1 and 24 h after slaughter, and ii) carcass surface microbial contamination by non destructive method (sponge) on the following sampling sites: ham; back (adults); belly; jowl (adults). Aerobic colony count (ACC; ISO 4833:2003), Enterobacteriaceae (EB; ISO 21528-2:2004), Salmonella spp. (ISO 6579:2002), Listeria monocytogenes (ISO 11290-1:1996 and 11290-2:1998) were also tested. All the plants except one have two separate rooms, for clean and dirty zones, stunning and bleeding operations being frequently carried out on open air. The piglet scalding was carried out in hot water bowls, and hair removal by singeing. Animal welfare signs revealed the following aspects: handling: hoisting prior to stunning, vocalizations (41%); stunning: not individual access to box, repeated shocks (4%), mean voltage 135.6 V, mean current for head-only electrical stunning 0.78 A; indicators of not effective stunning: palpebral reflex (24.2%), corneal reflex (12.8%), vocalizations (15.4%); bleeding: conscious and sensitive animal shackling (53.8%). Results of carcass evaluation showed, for piglets and adult pig respectively: i) pH: pH1=6.21±0.25 and 6.18±0.22; pH24=5.66±0.17 and 5.49±0.11; ii) ACC: 4.11±0.64 and 4.63±0.42 (log10 CFU/cm2, mean±standard deviation); iii) Enterobacteriaceae prevalence of 81.6% (2.55±0.80) in piglets and 100% (3.22±0.90) in adults. Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes were not detected in any of the samples. General requirements of outbuilding slaughterhouses in agritourisms are suitable to produce meat in compliance with hygienic rules, considering the low risk level. Results of Enterobacteriaceae levels of finishing pig carcasses were not in compliance with the EC Regulation No 2073/2005. Training of personnel is compulsory and can improve the stunning and bleeding procedures.

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