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Use of the Rinse and Chill Process as a Slaughter Process Technology
Health Canada has notified MPSC Inc. of St. Paul, MN, that it has no objection to the food use of meats derived from cattle and bison which have been slaughtered in conjunction with the Rinse and Chill process. The Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of those meats according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. These Guidelines are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of novel foods.
The following provides a summary of the notification from MPSC Inc. and the evaluation by Heath Canada and contains no confidential business information.
The MPSC Inc. technology rinses cattle and bison carcasses through the cardiovascular system with a chilled isotonic solution of sugars and salts. The purpose of the Rinse and ChillTM technology is to lower the pH and temperature earlier and more rapidly than the traditional slaughter practices and to thoroughly remove residual blood from the animal.
The assessment conducted by Food Directorate evaluators determined the microbiological safety of the notified foods, how the composition and nutritional quality were affected by the process; and the potential for the presence of any toxicants, allergens or chemical contaminants due to the use of the process. Based on the information provided by MPSC Inc., no safety or nutritional concerns regarding the use of this process were identified.
The Food Program has a legislated responsibility for pre-market assessment of novel foods and novel food ingredients as detailed in the Food and Drug Regulations (Part B, Division 28). Meats derived from animals slaughtered by the Rinse and Chill process are considered novel foods, as per B.28.001, as they have been manufactured by a process that has not been previously applied to those foods, and causes the foods to undergo a major change, the major change being, in respect to these foods, a change that places the food outside the accepted limits of natural variations for that food, with regard to microbiological and chemical safety.
2. Description of the process
The Rinse & Chill process involves inserting a catheter into the carotid artery of bison or cattle during bleeding and pumping a chilled dilute solution through the animal's vasculature. Residual blood and excess solution leave the body through the jugular veins. The duration of the process is 2-3 minutes per animal. The chilled solution consists of water (more than 98%), and low concentrations of dextrose, glycerine, phosphates and maltose.
In addition to eliminating residual blood, the process rapidly cools the carcasses by up to 8oC immediately post-bleed, and accelerates rigor mortis due to a rapid pH drop (one pH unit within an hour); rigor mortis is a process which normally takes many hours to achieve. This drop in pH is due to muscle tissues metabolizing the sugars in the rinse solution and converting them to lactic acid.
3. Dietary Exposure
It is not expected that dietary exposure to such meats would be any different to that of conventionally slaughtered animals. In the population that will be consuming them, these products will likely fully or partially replace their regular counterparts.
The impact of the Rinse and ChillTM process on the nutritional safety of the meats derived from its use was assessed. Data were provided on treated and control samples of meat for moisture, fat, moisture on a fat-free-basis, dextrose and phosphate. No significant differences were noted between the control and treated meats.
MPSC Inc. was asked to provide data or a rationale demonstrating that there was no effect on vitamin and mineral content due to the use of this process. The petitioner provided a rationale that blood removal is the primary difference when comparing treated and control carcasses. If iron content of the carcass is used as an indicator of minerals, total iron content in the treated carcass can be expected to be lower than in the control due to lower residual blood. However, the iron content of muscles are not affected by the treatment. The petitioner also indicated that they are not aware of any other specific mineral or vitamin that are likely to be affected by this technology.
MPSC, Inc. also indicated that waterlogging of organs was low (e.g. 1%) except for livers, hearts and kidneys which are labelled to reflect up to 10% added moisture. For Canada, in section 7.6.9 of the CFIA's Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures1, a policy already exists for the mandatory declaration on labels of retained water for raw single-ingredient meat products. This CFIA labelling requirement addresses the issue of retained water, as it informs the consumer of the presence of residual water. This is further discussed in the section on labelling.
The impact of the Rinse and Chill process on the chemical safety of the meats derived from its use was assessed. MPSC Inc. supplied data demonstrating that the process does not add moisture to the meat. In fact, the water added to the meat by this process is less than the amount from accepted water-based rinses used as processing aids. This means that very little of the solution remains in the animal. This conclusion is supported by the residue level of each of the ingredients in the rinse solution, which each are all below 5000 ppm, the limit of detection provided by the petitioner. In fact, if all of the constituents remained in the carcasses, theoretically, their concentrations would all be less than 50 ppm. For instance, the calculated concentrations of dextrose, which is in the highest concentration in the rinse solution, would be no more than 43 ppm.
It was concluded that the process did not add water to the product and the residual levels of the constituents of the solution do not pose a health hazard. Furthermore, because very little of the constituents of the solution remain in the meat, the solution was considered a processing aid, and not a food additive.
The impact of the Rinse and Chill process on the microbiological safety of the meats derived from its use was assessed. MPSC Inc. has provided data from a University of Minnesota study carried out in two slaughter plants. In one plant the results showed that the system reduced aerobic bacteria by 40.3% and coliforms by 99.35%. In the other plant, aerobic bacteria were reduced by 41.2%, coliform bacteria by 67.8% and E. coli by 83.75%, in comparison to the traditional slaughter process. The process improves carcass dressing procedures, particularly hide removal operations where most contamination occurs. This rinse solution affects capillaries below the hide, making it easier for hide separation, thus decreasing aerosolizing of hide contaminants that could coat the surface of the carcass. The carcass surface becomes slippery to the touch, instead of sticky. The slippery carcass surface is thought to cause mechanical interference with bacterial attachment, reducing initial contamination. Furthermore, the treated meat becomes a less favourable environment for bacterial growth due to the quickly reduced pH and temperature, and by the removal of the residual blood, which normally act as a source of nutrients for contaminating microflora.
The petitioner also provided the HACCP and Quality Control plan for the proposed process. All solutions are filtered to remove any debris and then sanitized by UV prior to injection. Furthermore, the solution itself has been demonstrated to be bactericidal, and does not support bacterial growth. The injection nozzle is sanitized prior to entering the carotid of the animal.
Toxicological issues regarding the use of the Rinse and Chill process were also addressed. Toxicological assessment would be appropriate in a situation where it was shown that the application of the Rinse and Chill process resulted in the production of compounds of unknown toxicity from normal constituents of the meats. Since the chemical and nutritional assessment showed that application of the process had no effect on the constituents of meats, a toxicological assessment was not considered to be necessary.
For offals derived from animals slaughtered in conjunction with the Rinse and Chill process, when water retention is demonstrated above 0.5%, requirements set in Section 7.6.9 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures needs to be followed. The amount of water added and retained in excess of naturally occurring moisture must be declared as part of the product name on the principal display panel of prepackaged products or on shipping containers for non prepackaged product.
Furthermore, the solution used in the Rinse and Chill process is considered a processing aid. Therefore, the constituents in the rinse solution do not need to appear on the list of ingredients of labels for meats derived from this process.
Health Canada's review of the information presented in support of the food use of meats derived from cattle and bison which have been slaughtered in conjunction with the Rinse and Chill process does not raise concerns related to food safety. Health Canada is of the opinion that those meats are as safe as other meats on the market.
This opinion is solely with respect to the suitability of those meats. It is the continuing responsibility of MPSC Inc., and of establishments which use this technology, to ensure that their products are in compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Any new information obtained in relation to these products which have potential health and safety implications should be forwarded to Health Canada for our consideration in order to ensure the continued safety and integrity of all foods available in the Canadian marketplace. The sale of a food which poses a hazard to the health of consumers would contravene the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act.
This Novel Food Information document has been prepared to summarize the opinion regarding the subject product provided by the Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada. This opinion is based upon the comprehensive review of information submitted by the petitioner according to the Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods.
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