Select Committee on Agriculture Memoranda

Memorandum submitted by the Silsoe Research Institute (R 9)

  Silsoe Research Institute is the BBSRC Institute which focusses on engineering science and innovation. Our major disciplines are engineering, physics and mathematics and our particular expertise is in applying these at the interface with biology, including agriculture.

  Our direct experience in the areas covered by this inquiry focusses on carcass hygiene in the abattoir. In addition, we have wider expertise in systems approaches to analysing risk, and in engineering research to improve process effectiveness.


  Silsoe Research Institute has expertise in the improvement of carcass hygiene in the abattoir as a means of reducing food-borne pathogens. Our work includes assessment of dressing practices, appraisal of operator tasks, determining routes of cross-contamination, and data collection including bio-aerosols, humidity and airflow.

  We are currently undertaking work jointly funded by the EU and the Food Standards Agency (originally funded by MAFF before FSA was established) into:

    —  measures to reduce contamination of meat and environment with CNS tissue during slaughter and processing of cattle and sheep (FSA M03 008); and

    —  contamination of meat and exposure of abattoir workers, by CNS material during standard butchering processes prevalent in the member states of the European Union (FSA M03 09).

  We believe that engineering solutions may play a crucial role in improving practices for spinal cord removal, thus reducing potential contamination of both meat and environment with central nervous system (CNS) tissue during animal slaughter and processing.


  We would wish to emphasise the general importance of engineering principles in understanding the risks associated with process management in the food chain.

29 January 2001

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