OSPRI helping with meat inspector training

Date 8 October 2020

The following article was published in the Farmers Weekly October 6, 2020

A joint training programme run by AsureQuality and OSPRI is helping to ensure meat inspectors are kept upskilled on bovine TB lesions and that they understand the importance of the postmortem phase in eradicating the last of TB from New Zealand’s cattle and deer herds.

AsureQuality food safety trainer and auditor John Tully says meat inspectors already undergo comprehensive training but, given the fall in bovine TB cases being found over the years, OSPRI wanted to reinforce what inspectors should be looking for.

Training courses began last year, with more scheduled to run later this month as refresher courses that are part of back-to-work induction training, utilising video being shot at present.

In earlier courses, Hamilton-based OSPRI regional partner of extension services Bill O’Connor took trainees through the background of bovine TB in NZ and the importance of the programme to eradicate it, while AsureQuality representatives covered the more technical side of the training.

That included identifying suspect lesions and how to differentiate them from other diseases such as woody tongue and lumpy jaw.

The training reinforced mandatory inspection procedures, along with additional procedures to be followed if suspected lesions are found. One message reinforced during the training was that if inspectors have any doubt at all about what they are seeing, then they should take samples and send them for testing.

About 28 courses have so far been held around the country, targeting regions that have beef and deer slaughter plants. 

Tully says more than 400 inspectors completed the face-to-face training, with others doing it online.

While some of the more experienced inspectors have seen TB in cattle before, others had not. 

All found the training worthwhile, Tully says, as they take their role as guardians of food seriously.

O’Connor says meat companies and inspectors will play an increasingly important role in bovine TB detection when the amount of field and on-farm testing is decreased.