• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on the public health risks related to the maintenance of the cold chain during storage and transport of meat. Part 1 (meat of domestic ungulates)


  • EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ)

  • Panel members: Olivier Andreoletti, Dorte Lau Baggesen, Declan Bolton, Patrick Butaye, Paul Cook, Robert Davies, Pablo S. Fernandez Escamez, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Havelaar, Kostas Koutsoumanis, Roland Lindqvist, James McLauchlin, Truls Nesbakken, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, Giuseppe Ru, Moez Sanaa, Marion Simmons, John Sofos and John Threlfall
  • Correspondence: biohaz@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on public health risks related to the transportation of meat: Declan Bolton, Kostas Koutsoumanis, Roland Lindqvist and Truls Nesbakken for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and the hearing expert: Laurent Guillier and EFSA staff: Michaela Hempen and Pablo Romero Barrios for the support provided to this scientific opinion.
  • Adoption date: 6 March 2014
  • Published date: 27 March 2014
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2013-00646
  • On request from: European Commission


Salmonella spp., verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica are the most relevant microbial pathogens when assessing the effects of beef, pork and lamb carcass chilling regimes on the potential risk to public health. Moreover, as most bacterial contamination occurs on the surface of the carcass, only the surface temperature is an appropriate indicator of bacterial growth. The growth of these four pathogens (using E. coli models for VTEC) during different time-temperature chilling scenarios was estimated using commercial slaughterhouse data and published predictive microbiology models. The outputs suggest it is possible to apply slaughterhouse carcass target temperatures higher than the currently mandated 7 °C throughout the carcass (including the core) in combination with different transport durations without obtaining additional bacterial growth. Combinations of maximum surface temperatures at carcass loading and maximum chilling and transport times, that result in pathogen growth equivalent or less than that obtained when carcasses are chilled to a core temperature of 7 °C in the slaughterhouse are provided.