Foodborne pathogens in fresh and processed meat products pose a serious threat to the health of consumers, as well as an additional burden on healthcare systems. In today’s meat supply chain, products may reach consumers in geographically dispersed markets within two to three days, thus making rapid and accurate pathogen detection technologies key to protecting public health and ensuring “business as usual” in the meat industry.
Within the European meat sector the pork industry is crucial both in terms of consumption and in terms of its commercial importance; pork is the most produced and consumed meat in Europe (51%), as well as the most exported. According to FaoStat, pigmeat supply in the EU in 2007 was estimated at over 21 Million tonnes, with pigmeat export reaching a total value of over 10 billion Euros in 2009. Despite these positive figures, pork is also responsible for a higher number of verified outbreaks per year, comparing to beef or bovine meat. These outbreaks are due to certain specific pathogens or serotypes, the most important of which are Salmonella, Yersina, Listeria and Campylobacter which represent practically all verified pork-associated infections reported in 2007.