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Meat Inspection


MEAT INSPECTION' The purpose of meat inspection is to eliminate diseased or other -wise bad meat from the food supply; to see that the preparation of meats and meat products is cleanly ; to guard against the use of harm ful dyes, preservatives, chemicals, or other deleterious ingredients; to prevent the use of false and misleading names or statements on labels: in short, to protect the health and the rights of the consumer. Sanitary and economic principles are the underlying factors in sound food in spection service. The necessity for this inspection is accentuated by the fact that the producer and consumer are often separated by great distances, and further there are often several middlemen between the two. A good system of food inspection is doubly necessary in the case of meat and milk, because of all foods they are most apt to carry in fections and are so readily decomposable.

An efficient meat inspection system is not only of advantage to man, but is the means of detecting and preventing disease among cattle,. sheep, and swine. A sharp outlook at the slaughter house will discover the first appearance of rinderpest, foot-and-mouth disease, Texas fever, or other epizootic, which may then be quickly traced to its origin and nipped in the bud. Foci of herd diseases, such as tuberculosis, actino mycosis, and hog cholera may thus be located. A meat inspection service is therefore of great economic importance and an effective agency in eradicating dangerous diseases from the food herds of the country.

The border line between health and disease is ill-defined. It is doubtful whether any animal slaughtered for food is wholly sound. Parasitic infections among the lower animals are exceedingly common. Anyone may convince himself of this fact by a visit to a slaughter house, for there he will see that many hogs have a handful of round worms in the intestinal tract; most animals have one or more species of intestinal worms, such as hookworms, tapeworms, and many protozoa, but, fortunately, these are for the most part not dangerous to man. Almost every hog or beef that is killed contains Sarcosporidia, small para sites that inhabit the muscles of these animals ; they are harmless to man. Meat inspection aims to eliminate those diseases which are in jurious to man and those diseases and conditions which render the meat of inferior quality or otherwise unfit for use. In establishing correct principles to guide a meat inspection service sentiment must give way to science. The killing of animals, and dressing of the carcasses is not a kid-glove business. It involves more or less blood and dirt. In our country much good meat has been condemned and destroyed according to law as a result of supersensitiveness. As meat becomes scarcer and prices higher, this waste will be checked by closer adherence to a sound application of pathology.

The practices of meat inspection vary in different countries, de pending upon the local conditions. Thus, in some countries, which have long had a scarcity of meat, and the people are, therefore, flesh hungry, much meat is passed for food that would here be condemned. In coun tries where meat is not very abundant it is even necessary for the officials to keep a sharp watch to prevent the people from eating meat known to be injurious. In America the attitude is very different, for we have a repugnance even against meat known to contain a harmless parasite. The need of conservation, especially since the World War, has placed our meat inspection service on a more practical basis, without sacrificing good standards.

The Federal Meat Inspection System depends for its authority upon the interstate and foreign commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States, and this inspection is therefore limited to the products of establishments that are engaged in interstate or foreign commerce. The Federal Government is powerless to exercise any supervision over an establishment, the meat of which is slaughtered, prepared, sold and consumed entirely within a single state. It is therefore the duty of each state or municipality to supplement the Federal Inspection Service with an efficient local inspection system to cover the intrastate supply.

A meat inspection ,service should have for its object first of all the protection of the consumer against diseased or other injurious qual ities contained in the meat. This should be accomplished with as little waste of food products as practicable, and, finally, the meat should be honestly labeled so that the consumer may know just what he is buying.

The Abattoir. So long as animals are permitted to be slaughtered in any barn or cellar it is impossible to exercise a proper control over meat and meat products, and conditions which endanger the public health will prevail. The first essential of a good meat inspection service is to concentrate all slaughtering in large central sanitary abattoirs. This simplifies the inspection and sanitary control, and is a needed measure to protect the consumer. In Germany and England public abattoirs have been established which belong to the city. These structures are built thoroughly of brick and concrete and are well protected against rats. They are situated near a railroad, so as to facilitate transporta tion, and are so constructed that they may be kept clean. Each person who wishes to slaughter must obtain a permit and pay rent. In the entire city of Paris there are only three slaughter houses. The erection and maintenance of well controlled, modern slaughter houses is one of the needs of our country, especially in the smaller towns, and until this reform is accomplished we shall never have a satisfactory solution of the meat problem.

An abattoir must be especially well constructed and kept clean. The same may be said of the trucks, drays, and all objects that come in contact with the meat. Slaughtering and butchering involves more or less blood and dirt, hence the necessity of frequent and repeated clean ing. The water-closets, toilet rooms, and dressing rooms should be en tirely separated from the departments in which the carcasses are dressed or meat products handled or prepared. Attention must be paid to eliminate all sources of odor that may contaminate the meat, and every effort must be made to keep out flies and other vermin, especially rats and mice. Dogs should not be allowed around slaughter houses on ac count of the danger of spreading the echinococcus and other parasites. The feeding of hogs on the uncooked refuse of slaughter houses should not be permitted.

The employees themselves must be cleanly and should wear clean outer clothes that may be readily laundered. The federal regulations even prescribe that employees shall pay particular attention to the clean of their boots and shoes. It is just as important to wash the hands before beginning work, and to. be particular after each visit to the toilet in the slaughter house or butcher shops, as it is in the milk industry. Persons with tuberculosis or other communicable disease should not be permitted in any department of the work where the meat or meat Products are handled or prepared in any way. It is important that butchers who handle a diseased carcass should thoroughly cleanse their hands of all grease and then immerse them in a good disinfecting solution. Butchers' implements used on diseased carcasses should be sterilized in boiling water or strong carbolic acid or forrnalin solution and thoroughly cleansed before they are again used. The federal meat inspectors are required to furnish their own implements for their own dissection or examination of diseased carcasses or unsound parts. The precautions required in an abattoir and butcher shop are based on the same principles as those in a surgical clinic. Meat that falls upon the floor or otherwise becomes wiled is required to be removed and condemned. Inflation by air from the mouth should not be permitted, inflation by mechanical means is also prohibited by the Department of Agriculture. Only good, clean, and wholesome water and ice should be used in the preparation of the carcasses, and the wagons and cars and all surfaces with which the meat comes in contact should be kept clean and in good sanitary con dition. There is no objection to the use of the skin and hoofs of animals condemned on account of tuberculosis and other diseases (except an thrax) communicable to man, provided they are disinfected. Each skin and hide must be immersed for not less than five minutes in a 5 per cent. solution of liquor cresolis compositus or a 5 per cent. solution of carbolic acid or a 1-1,000 solution of bichlorid of mercury.

Every complete abattoir must be provided with a retaining room or place, a condemned room, and a tank room. The retaining room or place is set apart for the final inspection of all carcasses and parts which the inspector desires to examine more carefully at his leisure. The re taining room must be large enough to have carcasses hang separately, furnished with abundant light, and provided with sanitary tables and other necessary apparatus. The condemned room must be securely rat proof and be under the lock and seal of the inspector. The object of this room is to contain all carcasses and parts of carcasses until they cat be tanked or disposed of in accordance with instructions.

All condemned carcasses or parts of carcasses are tanked under requirements in an official abattoir. Tanking consists in exposing thl carcasses to steam under a pressure of not less than 40 pounds, having I temperature of 288° F., and maintained not less than six hours. Thi effectively renders the contents of the tank unfit for food purposes. h the absence of tanking facilities the condemned meat may be slashec with a knife and then denatured with crude carbolic acid, kerosene, of other agent, when it may be removed to some other establishment having proper tanking facilities.

Qualifications of a Meat Inspector. A corps of thoroughly trained meat inspectors is one of the most important links in the chain of ar efficient meat inspection system. "-A meat inspector should be a quali fied veterinarian having special experience and training for his specialty He must know the anatomy of the various food-producing animals, especially cattle, horses, swine, sheep, and also fowl, and must be ac quainted with the normal parts of each. He must be able to distinguish between the various organs of the various species, so that he cannot be imposed upon by those who would like to substitute one for another. He must know how to examine animals during life, in order to deter mine whether they are healthy. He must know the character of all the infectious diseases which are likely to pass through the district where he is situated. The government recognizes that it requires a high degree of skill to conduct this work, and it has, therefore, placed the meat in spection service under the Civil Service, and, further, will admit veter inarians only if graduates of recognized veterinary colleges. In addition required to pass a Civil Service The Freibank or Three-Class Meat System. In Germany and certain other European countries meats are divided into three classes, viz., a first class, including meats which are passed for unrestricted trade; a second class, or Freibank meats, which are allowed on the market under certain restrictions; and a third class, meats which are condemned and thus excluded from the food supply.

The federal meat inspection system of our country has been a two class meat system, that is, meats coming to inspection are either passed for unrestricted trade or they are condemned and thus excluded from use as a food. However, a third class was recognized during the World War, and the amount of such meat passed after it is sterilized by steam now carries us well towards the three-class system.

The-following carcasses or parts of carcasses may be rendered into lard or tallow or passed for food after sterilization, provided the disease is moderate and limited, and then only after the lesions and surround ing parts are removed and condemned: Cysticercus bovis (beef tape worm) ; cysticercus cellulosae in hogs; cysticercus ovis in sheep; case ous lymphadenitis; tuberculosis; hog cholera and swine plague; icterus, if not the result of infection or intoxication and provided discoloration disappears on chilling; advanced pregnancy showing signs of parturi tion, also carcasses showing signs of having given birth to young within 10 days, and in which there is no evidence of septic infection. (See Bu reau Animal Industry Order 211.) Any of the above must be plainly labeled to show that the product is second-class grade or quality. The carcass or the part, as well as the can or container, must be plainly and conspicuously labeled "PREPARED FROM MEAT PASSED FOR STERILIZATION." The system of the German Freibank and the compulsory declaration of the condition of inferior meats are very old. The municipal laws of Augsburg as long ago as 1276 prescribed that inferior meat could not be sold without giving notice as to its quality. In 1404 the municipal laws of Wimpfen provided that the Freibank (from the German frei, free, here in the sense of unconnected or separate, and bank, a counter or stall) should be situated three paces away from the regular counters. The Freibank is, therefore, a counter which is free or separate from the counters on which the first class meats are sold. The term "Finnen bank" is sometimes used for these special meat stalls because measly meat or "finneges Fleisch" especially is sold at these places. This sys tem of the Freibank has been extended quite generally in Germany and is rapidly extending in France, Belgium, Italy, and other European countries. Meat from tuberculous animals, from animals containing cysticerci (the larval stage of tapeworms), trichinous meat, and meat that would otherwise be injurious if eaten raw, but is entirely safe as far as these infections are concerned when thoroughly cooked, is first sterilized by steam before it is placed upon the Freibank. It has been the more or less general experience that the introduction of the Freibank system has at first been met with by prejudice from various sides, but it is also the experience that this prejudice gradually wears off, and that in some places the demand for this meat becomes greater than the supply. In any event, no large quantity of such meat should be sold to any one purchaser, so as to prevent its being used to any great extent in boarding houses and restaurants.

Emergency Slaughter. In Germany the system known as emergency slaughter or Nothschlachtung has developed to large proportions. Ani mals that are sick or injured are killed, examined, and, if suitable for food, are labeled, inspected, and passed. In this way much valuable foodstuff is saved that would otherwise be lost. It is said that over 1 per cent. of the animals killed for food in Germany come under this emergency rule. The meat of animals killed under the emergency laws is so labeled and sold as second quality. There is also a certain amount of what may be termed emergency slaughter going on in the local un inspected slaughter houses of America, but it is not countenanced by law, and is, therefore, done in secrecy. Since 1914 emergency slaughter has been permitted under our Federal Meat Inspection Service, subject, however, to carefully stated restrictions.

Methods of Slaughter. In. slaughtering, the principal indications are: (1) a sudden and painless death; (2) an immediate withdrawal of the blood; (3) removal of intestines and hair or hide; (4) immediate cooling. Animals should be kept without food for at least 12 hours before slaughter. Sheep and hogs are usually hung by the hind feet and the large vessels of the neck dexterously cut with a sharp knife and with a single motion of the hand. Cattle are usually first stunned by a blow upon the head, then hung up by the hind legs and bled.

The Jewish method of slaughtering is regarded by many as superior to any other. It consists in cutting all the large vessels of the neck with one cut of a long, keen knife. The method is part of a ritual which includes an inspection of the animal and its organs for evidence of dis ease, according to the Mosaic laws. This is the oldest system of meat inspection. According to Dembo 6 it is the most rational from a hygienic standpoint, since the animal is bled rapidly and completely, and the convulsive movements cause the meat to be more tender and of more attractive appearance. Rigor mortis comes on more quickly, and the meat is, therefore, more quickly available for use, and also will keep several days longer than ordinarily.

A process of slaughtering originating in Denmark appears to have borne the test of trial in a very satisfactory manner, and recommends itself for adoption in the tropics, where meats decompose with exceed ing rapidity. The animal is shot in the forehead and killed, or stunned, and as it falls an incision is made over the heart and the ventricle is opened for two purposes: to allow the blood to escape and to admit of the injection of a solution of salt through the blood vessels by the aid of a powerful syringe. The process requires but a few minutes. and the carcass may be cut up at once.

The common methods of killing fowl intended for the market are either by bleeding, by dislocation of the neck, or by chopping off the head. When the .neck is stretched and' dislocated the skin remains unbroken and no bruised effect is produced, but most of the blood in the body drains into the neck and remains there. In killing a fowl by bleed ing the common procedure is to string it up by the legs with the head hanging downward. The operator then gives it a sharp blow with a stick on the back of the head, and when he has stunned it by this means he inserts a sharp knife into the roof of the mouth, penetrating the brain. He also severs the large vessels of the throat by rotating the knife, and the bird rapidly bleeds to death.

The United States Meat Inspection Law. The Federal Meat Inspec tion Law, approved June 30, 1906, provides for the inspection of cattle, sheep, goats, and swine, the meats or meat food products, which are to enter into interstate or export trade. It is administered by the Bureau of Animal "Industryunder the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture. It should be remembered that the Federal Meat Inspection Law applies only to meat and meat products sold in interstate commerce or for export trade, and does not apply to meats butchered, dressed, and sold within the state. In accordance with our dual form of government, the inspection of meat that is slaughtered, dressed, and sold within the borders of a single state is left entirely to the authority of that state. It is not until some of this meat passes the state line that it enters inter traffic and comes under the provisions of the federal law. Some of the states have passed laws similar to the federal law to protect their own citizens. In this way a more or less uniform method of meat inspection is gradually extending throughout the country.

The Federal Meat Inspection Law provides for inspection of animals before and after they are slaughtered; also inspection of all the meat and products processed, prepared or stored in the plant. It exercises super vision and control in respect to the kinds of preservatives used and over the marking and labeling of products, including the special marking of carcasses and meats which are held for further inspection, and of those condemned. Custody is maintained of all condemned carcasses and prod ucts, and their destruction supervised. Regulations for the maintenance of sanitary condition throughout the plant and for the cleanly handling of meats and products are prescribed and enforced. The regulations prescribe an inspection substantially the same for meats which are im ported.* Ante-mortem Inspection. A careful ante-mortem examination or at least an inspection of all cattle, sheep, swine, goats, etc., about to be slaughtered should be made by a competent veterinarian. Any animal showing symptoms of or suspected of being infected with a disease or condition which would probably cause its condemnation when slaugh tered should be set aside. These animals should then be slaughtered separately in a place provided for this special purpose. If necessary the temperature of the animal may be taken in the ante-mortem examina tion, although due allowance must be made for rise in temperature due to excitement and undue exertion, especially in hogs. Animals com monly termed "downers" or crippled animals are set aside and slaugh tered separately.

Post-mortem Inspection. The post-mortem inspection is nothing more or less than a well-conducted autopsy. The head, tongue, tail. thymus gland, and all viscera, and also the blood and all parts uted in the preparation of food and medicinal products should be retained in such a manner as to preserve their identity until the post-mortem examination is completed. It is, of course, impracticable to formulate rules to cover all conditions and diseases, and much must, therefore, be left to the judgment, experience, and training of the veterinary inspector in charge. Carcasses or parts of carcasses with the following diseases or conditions are condemned, depending upon circumstances : anthrax, pyemia and septicemia, vaccinia, rabies, tetanus, malignant epizootic catarrh, hog cholera and swine plague, actinomycosis, caseous lympha denitis, tuberculosis, Texas fever, parasitic icterus, hematuria, mange or scab, trichinosis, tapeworms, infections that may cause meat poison ing, icterus, uremia, and sexual odor, urticaria, melanosis, tumors, bruises, abscesses, liver flukes, and other parasites, emaciation from anemia, immaturity, milk fever, and railroad sickness. A few of these diseases deserve brief mention.

Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is exceedingly common in cattle and is becoming more and more prevalent among hogs. A preponderating percentage of all carcasses condemned as unfit for food is so condemned on account of tuberculosis. Thus, under Federal meat inspection, 40, 792 cattle, or 0.372 per cent., and 59,740 swine, or 0.168 per cent., were condemned on account of tuberculosis in the fiscal year 1918. In the same year 10,586 cattle and 88,915 swine affected with localized or limited tuberculosis were passed for sterilization after removal of all affected parts. Tuberculosis is important, not alone because so many food animals are infected with it, but because it presents a peculiarly difficult problem for the meat inspector. The fundamental thought in .determining whether to pass or condemn meat of a tuberculous animal is that it should not contain tubercle bacilli, and should not be im pregnated with toxic substances of tuberculosis or associated with septic infection. If the lesions are localized and not numerous, if there is no evidence of distribution of tubercle bacilli throughout the blood, and if the animals are well nourished and in good condition, there is no reason to suspect that the flesh is unwholesome, and it is permitted to be used after the removal of the infected portions. Just when tu berculosis should be considered localized or generalized, from the stand point of meat inspection, is frequently a difficult question to determine. Fortunately, the danger from this source is not very great, as tuberculosis of muscle is exceedingly rare, and the further safeguard of cooking is sufficient to kill the tubercle bacilli, provided the meat is thoroughly cooked throughout. The relation of bovine tuberculosis to human tuber culosis has been discussed on page 166.

Tuberculosis of cattle shows itself in four primary lesions: (1) the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, (2) the lungs and associated lymph nodes, (3) the mesenteric lymph nodes, and (4) the liver. From the retro pharyngeal nodes the process extends to the cervical lymph nodes and also to the anterior mediastinal lymph nodes. When this group of glands alone is infected the disease may be considered as localized. From the mesenteric lymph nodes the infection frequently reaches the peritoneum, and from the bronchial lymph nodes the pleura. The newly formed growth in the peritoneal or pleural cavities may be enormous in amount. It is often suspended from the omentum in great grape-like masses (Perlsucht), or the intestines may be plastered with tubercles. In these cases the animal otherwise may be in good condition ; that is, the disease is still outside the vital organs and the tubercle bacilli have not invaded the blood stream. In Germany it is permitted to cut off such growth and allow the meat to go into consumption. In our country the meat of such animals is rejected.

For_ practical purposes it is necessary to formulate definite rules for the guidance of the veterinary inspector, and this is done with minute particularity in the regulations of the Bureau of Animal Industry in the case of tuberculosis. In general, if the tuberculous lesions are limited to a single part or organ of the body without evidence of recent invasion of tubercle bacilli into the general circulation, the diseased parts are removed and the remainder of the carcass is passed for use. If the animal suffered from fever before it was killed or is cachetic, anemic, and emaciated, or if the lesions are generalized, especially if they exist in two or more body cavities, or if the lesions are found in the muscles, intermuscular tissues, bones, or joints, or if the lesions are multiple, acute, and actively progressive, the carcass is condemned. Carcasses which reveal lesions more severe or more numerous than those de scribed for carcasses to be passed, but not so severe or numerous as the lesions described for carcasses to be condemned, may be rendered into lard or tallow or otherwise sterilized in accordance with the regulations, when the distribution of lesions is such that all parts containing tubercu lous lesions can be removed.

Anthrax. All carcasses showing lesions of anthrax, regardless of the extent of the disease, are condemned and immediately incinerated. This includes the hide, hoofs, horns, viscera, fat, blood, and all portions of the animal. The killing bed upon which the animal was slaughtered must then be disinfected with a 10 per cent. solution of formalin, and all knives, saws, and other instruments that have come in contact with the infection must be boiled or otherwise disinfected.

Hog Cholera and Swine Plague. Carcasses showing and progressive lesions of these diseases in any organ or tissue are condemned. If the lesions are slight and limited they may be passed for sterilization. Man is not susceptible to hog cholera.

Actinomycosis.If the animal is in a well-nourished condition and the disease has not extended from a primary area of infection in the head, the head, including the tongue, is condemned and the remaining part of the carcass may be used, but if the disease is generalized the entire carcass is considered unfit for human use and condemned.

Tapeworm Cysts.Carcasses of animals affected with tapeworm cysts, known as Cysticercus bovis, are condemned if the infestation is excessive or if the meat is watery or discolored. Carcasses showing a slight infestation may be passed for food after removal and condemna tion of the cysts, provided the carcasses are then held in cold storage or pickle for not less than 21 days; the time in storage may be reduced to 6 days if the temperature does not exceed 15° F. Calves under 6 weeks old are not subject to Cysticercus bovis. As an alternative to re tention in cold storage or pickle, such carcasses may be passed for sterili zation.

Carcasses or parts of carcasses found infected with hydatid cysts (echinococcus) may be passed after condemnation of the infected part or organ.

Septic and Pyemic Conditions.All carcasses of animals so in fected that consumption of the meat or meat food products thereof may give rise to meat poisoning should be condemned. For the information of the inspector the following conditions are specified: (1) acute inflam mation of the lungs, pleura, peritoneum, pericardium, or meninges; (2) septicemia or pyemia, whether puerperal or traumatic or without any evident cause; (3) severe hemorrhagic or gangrenous enteritis or gastritis; (4) acute diffuse metritis or mammitis; (5) polyarthritis; (6) phlebitis of the umbilical veins; (7) traumatic pericarditis; (8) any other inflammation, abscess, or suppurating sore if associated with acute nephritis, fatty and degenerated liver, swollen soft spleen, marked pulmonary hyperemia, general swelling of the lymphatic glands, and diffuse redness of the skin, either singly or in combination.

It is required that, immediately after the slaughter of any animal so diseased as to require its condemnation, the premises and implements used must be thoroughly disinfected. The part of any carcass coming in contact with the carcass of any diseased animal or with the place where such animal was slaughtered, or with the implements used in the slaughter, before thorough disinfection has been accomplished, should also be condemned.

Meat poisoning is not a poisoning at all, but an acute infection, caused in the majority of cases by B. enteritidis or closely allied bacillus in the colon-typhoid group. The subject is fully discussed on page 692.

The food an animal eats produces distinctive odors or tastes in its flesh. Poisonous substances ingested by an animal may he deposited in its tissues in amounts sufficient to be poisonous to man. Chickens may be accustomed to strychnin in such large amounts that this method is used in the south to kill the hawks that prey upon them.

Partridge poisoning, which was apparently quite common in the first half of the eighteenth century, was probably due to mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), which is eaten by grouse in the winter time. The poisonous principle is known as andromedotoxin, and Chestnut was able to show that partridges may eat enough of the laurel with impunity to themselves to render their flesh poisonous.

Miscellaneous. In addition to the infections noted, the following diseases are sometimes transferred from the flesh or organs of lower animals, or by contact with the lower animals in various ways: tuber culosis, anthrax, glanders, rabies, actinomycosis, foot-and-mouth disease, cowpox, ringworm, and various pyogenic and septic infections.

Meat may occasionally be injurious to health from a variety of miscellaneous causes. Thus, an animal that has died of arsenic or other poisonous substance may contain Sufficient of the poison in the tissues to affect the person who eats part of the flesh.

The belief that sickness in man can follow the consumption of the flesh or milk of animals which have previously fed upon poisonous plants is not unfounded. Chestnut 8 states that as much as three grains per liter of formic acid may be present in honey, and that poisons from various plants have been isolated from honey. Pammel 9 furthermore states that garlic, chicory, cabbage or turnips, when eaten by cows, im part a bad taste to the milk and cites instances of poisoning in man and animal due to ingestion of the milk from animals which had eaten colchicum, mandrake, and the death camas (Zygadenus venenosus).

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