Three types of hazards can compromise the safety of meat and poultry (i.e., physical, chemical, and biological). Bone chips and foreign materials such as metal, glass, wood, plastic, stones, etc. are considered physical hazards. Chemical hazards include natural and synthetic environmental contaminants. Included in this category are chemical residues, which result from the use of animal drugs and pesticides, or from chemicals present in the animal's environment. Antimicrobials are administered to animals for their therapeutic value, and also to enhance their growth and feed efficiency. Regulatory agencies and consumers are concerned about the presence of residues in animal tissues and their products, as they may lead to allergic reactions, hypersensitivity, and toxicity. Furthermore, there is increasing concern that subtherapeutic and therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animals gives rise to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and that these antimicrobial-resistant bacteria may be transmitted from animals to humans. The United States has a complex residue control program in an effort to prevent violative residues from entering the food supply chain. The Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency are responsible for establishing tolerances (maximum permissible levels) for chemical residues in foods, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service enforces these tolerances through its various residue control programs. If a product containing violative levels of residues is found, it is considered adulterated and subject to condemnation (http://www.fsis. usda.gov/OPHS/blue2000/).
Biological hazards associated with meat and poultry are bacteria, viruses, parasites, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It is estimated that bacterial agents are responsible for 30% of human foodborne illnesses, while viruses and parasites cause 67% and 3% of the illnesses, respectively. Biological hazards associated with foods of animal origin are discussed in more detail in other sections of this encyclopedia.
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