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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Accidental delivery of pigs for slaughter prior to end of withdrawal period for antimicrobial treatment- Ways of handling

Alban, Lis; Antunovic, Boris; Belous, Madalina; Berzins, Aivars; Bonardi, Silvia; Garcia-Gimeno, Rosa Maria; Jenson, Ian; Kautto, Arja Helena; Majewski, Michal; Oorburg, Derk; Sakaridis, Ioannis; Sirbu, Alexandrina; Vieira-Pinto, Madalena; Vagsholm, Ivar; Petersen, Jesper Valentin


Withdrawal periods after treatment with antimicrobials are set to minimise the frequency and concentration of residues in meat from treated pigs. Still, by mistake, pigs can be sent for slaughter too early. How should the abattoir respond when a pig producer contacts the abattoir to inform them of such a mistake? To address this, two questionnaire surveys were undertaken during spring of 2022, targeting the competent authority (CA) and the food business operator (FBO) from countries in- and outside the European Union. The results covering answers from 78 respondents from 27 countries show that most countries have procedures in place, but also various ways of responding, between CA and FBO, as well as between countries with a large export volume versus countries with a small export volume of pig meat. We developed a best practice model for handling such events, which covers stages before and after the pig is slaughtered and is subjected to official meat inspection and resulting decisions in accordance with relevant legislation. The model involves a quantitative exposure risk assessment, which should be undertaken by the FBO and verified by the CA. The assessment produces estimates of the concentrations of residues at the time of slaughter. If higher than the maximum residue limit, the expected use of the carcasses should be considered. Hereby, the consumer exposure risk can be assessed using the acceptable daily intake (ADI) value, and a risk-based management decision about the safe handling of the meat can be made. This approach would compensate for the huge variation in withdrawal periods for the same substances in force in the European countries.


Veterinary public health; Monitoring; Antibiotics; Pork; Sustainability; Residues; Risk -based food safety

Published in

Food Control
2023, Volume: 154, article number: 110000