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Risk categorisation of abattoirs in Europe: Current state of play

Salines, Morgane; Lazou, Thomai; Gomez-Luengo, Jose; Holthe, Janne; Nastasijevic, Ivan; Bouwknegt, Martijn; Dadios, Nikolaos; Houf, Kurt; Blagojevic, Bojan; Antic, Dragan


Morgane Salines

Thomai Lazou

Jose Gomez-Luengo

Janne Holthe

Ivan Nastasijevic

Martijn Bouwknegt

Nikolaos Dadios

Kurt Houf

Bojan Blagojevic

Dragan Antic


In the last decades, a risk-based approach has been identified as a step forward in modernising meat safety system in Europe. Risk categorisation of abattoirs based on their process hygiene and the appropriate use of harmonised epidemiological indicators (HEIs) has been suggested as one essential component of the risk-based meat safety assurance system. However, to date, only a limited number of papers have investigated abattoir risk categorisation. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to (i) provide an overview of the use of risk categorisation systems in poultry, pig, cattle and small ruminant abattoirs in Europe and (ii) explore the criteria, relevance and applicability of risk categorisation systems for competent authorities (CAs). To that aim, a questionnaire was designed and sent to representatives of 35 European CAs. Of the 18/35 respondents (51%), 14 (78%) indicated that abattoirs in their country are categorised according to their food safety risk in a systematic way, whilst four countries (22%) do not categorise abattoirs according to their food safety risk. The main reported purpose of categorising abattoirs is to adapt the frequency of official controls. Major differences in the described categorisation systems were found between countries, particularly in their complexity and the criteria used. The number of included criteria ranged from 1 to 10, the main ones being the outcomes of the CA's official audits (78% of the 14 countries), the size of abattoirs (64%), the relevance and credibility of HACCP plans (57%) and export agreements of abattoirs (43%). Less than a third of the surveyed countries indicated they utilise results of microbiological testing as a basis for risk categorisation of abattoirs, and no country has formally included HEIs in its risk categorisation system. The effectiveness of the implemented risk categorisation systems was assessed in five countries only (36%), but with the use of unclear methodology and assessment criteria. More than 80% of respondents expressed their wish to be provided with a practical method for categorising abattoirs according to their pertained food safety risks. In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrate the need to develop a fit-for-purpose and science-based framework for risk categorisation of abattoirs in Europe.


Salines, M., Lazou, T., Gomez-Luengo, J., Holthe, J., Nastasijevic, I., Bouwknegt, M., …Antic, D. (2023). Risk categorisation of abattoirs in Europe: Current state of play. Food Control, 152, 109863.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 12, 2023
Online Publication Date May 17, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date May 18, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2023
Journal Food Control
Print ISSN 0956-7135
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 152
Pages 109863
Keywords Food Science; Biotechnology
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Risk categorisation of abattoirs in Europe: Current state of play; Journal Title: Food Control; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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