The aim of this guide is to highlight the basic principles behind reducing the potential of a food hygiene hazard to cause degradation of carcasses intended for human consumption. This guide links to the following guides in this series: Gralloching, Carcass inspection and Larder hygiene and safety.


There are 3 categories of food hygiene hazard, these are tabulated below together with examples and the risks associated with them.

Category of hazardExampleRisk
Biological Harmful food poisoning bacteria such as E. coli O157, Salmonella and Campylobacter
Contamination from fly blow, dogs, vermin
Transferred during gralloching, extraction, lardering and preparation via worker’s hands, knives, surfaces, water. Can grow during processing, storage and transport. Could be transmitted directly from carcass
May infest/bite/be ingested by humans.
Causes spoiling and possible food poisoning.
ChemicalCleaning fluids
Petrol/oil and other chemicals carried in vehicles or in environment
Residues from veterinary medicines (such as Immobilon)
Chemicals or residues may cause harm on contact or if ingested. Residues may not be break down in raw meat or during cooking process.
PhysicalVegetation, soil, dead insects, jewellery, tags, clips, rubber bands, sticky plasters, fragments of bullet and bone dust, rust, flaking paint
Damage to carcass
Contamination of carcasses.
Some objects may be harmful if ingested.
Shot or other physical damage during transport or preparation could render meat unfit or hasten it’s deterioration


The procedures for handling carcasses are dealt with in the Gralloching, Carcass Inspection, and Larder guides but there are a number of aspects of basic hygiene practice designed to prevent contamination known as “controls” which are outlined in the table below.

Basic actions to reduce hygiene hazard (controls)

When working with food:Maintain a high degree of personal hygiene
Wear clean clothes or protective garments
Do not touch your face or hair
Do not cough or sneeze over food products
Do not wear jewellery or other items which may become soiled or fall into food
Do not eat, drink, or smoke
Wash hands to prevent contamination:Before starting work
Frequently during work to avoid soiling carcass
After touching raw food especially meats
After going to the toilet
After a break or leaving the larder
Prevent contamination from cuts and skin ailments by: Covering cuts with blue food safe dressings and/or wearing gloves Seeking medical advice if unsure
When suffering from diarrhoea/vomiting/ stomach upset/transmissible skin condition: Do not handle carcasses or work in the larder or food preparation area
Anyone suffering from these symptoms should not return to work until 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped
Before beginning work in, or when returning to, the larderPut on a washable apron and /or change into clean clothes and clean footwear
Prevent cross contamination by:Minimising contact with anything not essential to the food process.
Keeping work areas properly cleaned.
Cleaning tools(especially knives and saws ), other equipment and transport containers thoroughly between carcasses
Use only single use, disposable wipes


Bacteria can cause illness by being ingested with food then reproducing in the body (as few as 10 (E.coli) bacteria can cause illness in a healthy adult) or by poisoning food as they grow on it. Bacteria need time (in 100 minutes 1000 bacteria can become 1 million), moisture, food, and warmth to multiply. Temperature controls must be maintained to minimise the hazard:

-18°C to -20°C bacteria dormant
+1°C to +7°C bacteria grow slowly
+8oC to + 63°C ( optimum 37oC)DANGER ZONE bacteria can multiply rapidly
+ 63°C and above, bacterial numbers reduce
+100°C bacteria mostly destroyed.

Sources include:
The environment, non-potable water, carcasses, raw food, all animals and their hair, droppings/urine, stomach contents, fly blow, dirty surfaces and equipment


Cleaning procedures can be split into a number of stages. Stages 1-5 should be followed in order for the cleaning of floors and walls and equipment such as hooks and gambrels. Work surfaces, knives and saws should be cleaned using 1-3 then either 6 or 7.




1. Pre-cleanBroom/brush, cold water Remove debris
2. Main cleanHot water (temp 75°c – 82°c) and detergentRemove remaining physical/visible contamination, including grease, from surfaces
3. RinseHot waterRemove detergent and contamination loosened by main clean
4. DisinfectChemical disinfectant. Can be left in contact but rinse before using againKill bacteria
5. RinseHot waterRemove disinfectant and bacteria
6. SanitiseSanitiser for clean or lightly soiled surfaces Requires contact time to be effective, does not require rinsing. Applied with wipesKill bacteria. Applied to hard surfaces such as work surfaces and equipment to sterilise
7. SteriliseHot water steriliser or Ultra violet Kill bacteria. Sterilising knives/saws only


  • Wipes- use only disposable dry wipes (e.g. blue coloured paper roll) on carcasses and wipe once only. Proprietary wet (e.g. probe wipes) wipes can be used on surfaces or equipment.
  • Water – washes away some contamination but can spread it , do not attempt to wash away contamination on carcasses. Avoid splashing carcasses when cleaning. Water must be of potable (drinkable) quality.


Carcasses and meat products must be kept in cool, well ventilated conditions to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria and mould. The concept of a “cold chain” should be followed where a fresh carcass or meat from it, once cooled to below 7°C should not be allowed to rise above that temperature again (see Larder Design guide).

Further Info

Food safety