Deep-cleaning using chemicals and high-pressure water cleaning are both effective ways to prevent cross-contamination between different proteins in meat factories that handle multiple species, according to research commissioned by the FSA.

Scientists at the Government Chemist (LGC) tested what impact different hygiene regimes had on “carryover” rates in factories where pork and beef was minced using the same mincing equipment. They found deep-cleaning with chemicals as well as high-pressure water cleaning in between different proteins both resulted in carryover being prevented.

However, where mincing equipment was not cleaned between proteins, carryover from pork into beef was found.

There is no legal obligation to clean equipment between red meat species, but processors needed to be aware of the likelihood of carryover and label their products accordingly, the LGC said. “This needs to be considered by manufacturers when presenting information to consumers about the composition of meat products so the contents are accurately described.”

The results would also help the industry and regulators differentiate between accidental cross-contamination between pork and beef, and deliberate fraud, it added. “There should not be an expectation of adventitious contamination and the presence of low concentrations of undeclared species in relevant meat products.”