Meat and meat products contribute to the availability of macromolecules like proteins and fats. They are also an important source of multiple vitamins and minerals when taken in recommended dietary intake. The overall quality of meat and meat products depends on their color, flavor, aroma, taste, and texture. The texture is mainly considered an index for the quality of meat. Due to the fast lifestyle meat and meat products are purchased in large amounts and stored for longer periods of time which directly affects the shelf life of the product. The long storage time leads to nutritional loss. In Pakistan, safety standards are mostly neglected when it comes to the food items such as meat because meat consisting of chicken, mutton, and beef is sold by the roadside which severely affects the properties of meat because of the poor working environment. The dust particles consist of thousands of microorganisms that cause contamination. The quality of meat is at risk throughout the processing chain starting from the slaughtering up to the packaging phase. The transportation of meat and meat products is also a critical factor in terms of temperature control. The purpose of this review is to describe meat safety and quality in Pakistan.
Meat safety is a serious domain that needs to be properly addressed no matter the country or continent. Pakistan happens to be among those countries that are not fully developed and are currently undergoing consistent development in multiple areas and domains of life, food safety happens to be one of them. Generally, there are certain laws that are upheld when it comes to food safety in Pakistan but still the chances of things getting complicated and interfering with the final outcome of food safety are there. As indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are five standards of food handling. These incorporate preventing food with microorganisms spreading from individuals and environmental factors and it also includes separating the raw and cooked food so that the process of food spoilage could be destabilized and its speed decreased to an absolute degree. Other than that the storage of food at dedicated temperatures is also an important factor in all of this or otherwise the chances of it going bad increase rapidly (Khan et al., 2020).
Talking about the level of professionalism that is put forth in Pakistan by the various food safety systems working in collaboration is definitely questionable. There is a serious lack of skilled personnel and a proper framework through which the handling, production, and distribution of meat could take place. The end result is spoilage of food and loss both in terms of money and time. All the food enforcement agencies working in the country rely heavily on the codex Alimentarius standards and its guidelines regarding food safety, packaging, and labeling systems. But even so, there is a direct discrepancy or multiple loopholes within the system if you will that prevent these bodies from taking their job seriously and working in harmony to uphold the standards outlined by the foreign food safety bodies (Khan et al., 2020).
Laws Dealing with Food Safety in Pakistan
Pakistan does have multiple food safety laws and guidelines in effect to oversee all the operations regarding food safety but at times these laws are out of sync, practically older, and not updated for many years and that is why most of these are ineffective. Following is a brief understanding of the
food laws and rules that are upheld in the country (Khan et al., 2020).
Pakistan Pure Food Laws (P.F.L) 1963
The P.F.L is the reason for the outlines of the current food safety and administrative system in the country. It covers 104 food elements that do fall under these nine general categories that are:
1. Milk and associated products
2. Eatable oils and fatty items
3. Confectionary items
4. Food grains and cereals
5. Bland foods, flavors, and sauces
6. Products that originate from the soil
7. Random food items
These guidelines address different food-oriented issues such as dealing with their storage conditions, the incorporation, and control of the foreign bodies inside it, and other such issues that might not get tackled in a conventional food preparation setup.
The Pure Food Ordinance of 1960
This law deals with the planning of the manufacturing and distribution of food items countrywide. All provinces including some distant northern areas have upheld and embraced this law with certain changes. It is there to guarantee that everyone out there can have an ample supply of food without disrupting the value of the food and the overall price for which it is made available.
The law is pretty strict when it comes to tampering with the food items such as adding additives, preservatives, or diluting elements of any kind and if any such behavior is caught then the law dictates certain penalties for those people. In the same way, the law doesn’t allow the trading, sale, or even shipping of food items that are not wholesome or might damage the well-being or health of the individuals in any potential way. The law is not uniform in all areas. Even penalties for the same offenses do vary in certain provinces(Khan et al., 2020).
Pakistan Hotels and Restaurant Act of 1976
This law is for all the hotels and restaurants operating within the country and controls the type and quality of the food served in these while at the same time keeping the prices intact and uniform across the board. The sale of food or beverages that are contaminated, have unhygienic items present, and are disturbing to human health are not allowed to be sold at all. The only thing this law is restrictive about is not giving the consumer a proper framework for the sake of filing a complaint if any discrepancy is found and addressing their issue properly (Khan et al., 2020).
Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority Act 1996
The PSQCA, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is the national standardization body. It deals with the following aspects of meat safety and distribution;
Storage of the Meat
Uncured, crude meat, for the most part, keeps going securely for around three days in the fridge. Assuming that you intend to keep uncooked meat longer, freezing it is your smartest choice. Seal the meat in an impenetrable bundle prior to freezing. Then, at that point, it can typically be frozen for somewhere around a while. On the bright side of things also make sure that your meat is necessarily clean and rid of all the excess fat and other deteriorating bodies. This will automatically prolong the shelf life of the product and would make it available for several months to come. Safe freezing and refrigeration time likewise rely upon the capacity temperature. Keep your cooler near 0°F (- 17.8°C) and enable proper freezing of the meat to save it for a prolonged period of time. This holds supplements and keeps food new. Keep your fridge at around 34°F (1.1°C), simply above freezing, to adequately draw out the timeframe of realistic usability of food sources (Akhtar, 2015).
Educational Status and Survey to Check the Hygienic Practices of Butcher Shops
The food industry which revolves around meat and meat products in Pakistan is basically under the influence of multiple factors like religion and variations in consumer demands. The major population of Pakistan comprises Muslims almost 96% of therefore halal meat and meat products are at the center stage of the processing industry. Due to being a halal-dominant society, Pakistan is a major entity in exporting halal meat to several other countries. Meat is an important and protein-rich part of our diet. In the past several new methods of processing were adopted for the breeding, grazing, and feeding of animals. This also includes mechanical slaughtering, processing, and vacuum packaging, all these procedures are implemented to improve the safety and quality standards of desired meat and meat products (Sohaib et al., 2017).
When several analyses of quality and safety areas of meat in Hyderabad it has been observed that a certain degree of variation was present in the compositional quality of various meat and meat products. These variations may be due to faulty sample collection, feeding material formula, and different processing techniques adopted in the processing industry. The mixing, frying, and scalding parameters may lead to variations in the quality. The study revealed that the kebabs made of chicken meat possess high protein content whereas a substantial rise was observed in the fat content, moisture content, and water-holding capacity of the meatballs. The research involved multiple chicken-based products but it was a shocking revelation that the concentration of total volatile bases was high in chicken fillets as compared to the rest of the multiple chicken-made products. A similar pattern was identified in the case of the total viable count of the chicken fillet. The results of the study simply state that a visible pattern was observed for poor hygiene and contamination in the processing and production facility of meat products based on chicken. To make the products safe for consumption the contamination level must be near the safe limit. This can only be implemented by adopting Good manufacturing practices. Lastly, proper training workshops should be made compulsory for the worker to keep themselves up-to-date regarding
the quality assurance activities that need to be considered all the time (Hussain et al., 2016).
The main objective of the study was to simply determine the frequency of contamination in the retail meat sold in different parts of Karachi, Pakistan. In this study, almost three hundred and forty samples were collected from different regions out of those samples almost 84% of the samples were declared contaminated with multiple bacterial strains like Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterobacter. Following is the list of Food-borne pathogens which were isolated from various meat samples pathogens like E.coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytes, Salmonella, and Shigella species. On the other hand, the environmental samples were heavily contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus and Shigella strains. It has been also revealed that almost four strains of Brucella species were also isolated from multiple meat samples. The Total aerobic counts ranged
between 108 –1010 CFU/g. The study concluded with the following outcomes the Food-borne pathogens present in retail shops can seriously give rise to horizontal contamination of meat products ( Ali et al ., 2010).
In this modern day and age the level of global trade is on the rise meanwhile the distance from one market to another market and from producers to consumers is also expanding. This problem means that there is a dire demand of freeze meat and meat products for international transportation.
Humans can get meat from different types of animals but beef mutton and lamb along with chicken are preferred. Due to this reason, the main area of research in the field of meat science falls in this category. Multiple types of freezing and thawing techniques were discussed in this study. The commercial application of both these mechanisms still contributes a minute share of the market but scientific research identified that these procedures can surely increase the overall quality of meat and its derivative products (Khan et al., 2013).
Nutritional Profile of Chicken Meat
Mean Table for Moisture, Crude Protein, and Crude Fat of Raw Chicken Meat
Smart Packaging System
The second most critical step involved in the deterioration of meat quality is the medium of packaging used for the meat and its products. This sector of processing has experienced development since its origin. However, in the last few decades, there is a lot of innovation in the area of packaging such as the arrival of smart packaging systems (SP). This type of advancement is very helpful in a very competitive food industry. SP systems have a tendency to improve the shelf life, and safety parameters apart from their actual assigned duty of providing protection to meat and meat products from undesired chemical, physical, and biological intruders and as a result keep the product safe and sound. The SP system comprises two important components one is indicators and the second one is sensors. This system is used for real-time monitoring of meat quality and it provides information like freshness, temperature, and microbiological strength of the product to the consumer and the desired retailer. Multiple types of barcodes and radio signal frequency identification tags are used in meat packaging so that they can provide real‐time information about the traceability and authentication of the product in the supply chain (Li et al., 2018). The sensors which are used in smart packaging provide fast, accurate, reliable, data about the safety and quality of the meat products. Nowadays new research trends have been observed toward renewable organic and natural components to use as Nano-composite materials for food packaging material. There is no doubt that smart packaging brought a great revolution in the field of packaging and in the coming day more novel advancements will be made in the meat
packaging sector (Li et al., 2018).
Microbial Parameters of Chicken Meat
The hygienic quality of meat depends on the contamination during the cutting procedure at the meat shop and also the development and improvement of contaminating flora during storage, cooling, and distribution. The cutting of meat at room temperature is considered the source of distribution of surface microscopic organisms by releasing muscle juice, which is remarkably rich in supplements (Belhaj et al., 2019). The quality of the supply chain of meat from abattoirs, distributors, and butchery workshops to definite customers is not appropriate and the guarantee of meat is taken for microbial quality, competence, security, cleanliness, and healthiness. Moreover, there is no satisfactory material present at the meat shops that the evaluation of contact surfaces for the security of food preparation, microbial load on meat, and food-borne pathogens is
carried at all times (Ammor, 2007).
Several factors contribute to the discoloration of the meat at the storage location and display site in the butcher shops. Type of muscle fiber, pH, the diet of animals, breed, and sex is the factors that affect the meat color after the slaughtering process. After slaughtering, lightning, oxygen availability, temperature, storage conditions, packaging materials, and microbial growth are the primary parameters that affect the meat quality and safety status during the meat display on the retail markets (Ponnampalam et al., 2017).
Mean Table for TVBN, pH, and WHC of Raw Chicken Meat
Role of Government
It is stated that the above-mentioned elements could prevent the government and different investors from precisely using measures on the effect of contamination of food issues on the well-being of the people. However, contamination due to microorganisms in plants preparing food can be assumed an essential job regarding the safety and quality of food. The shoppers have likewise restricted data on the safety and quality of the meat devoured routinely. Besides, raw meat is a profoundly short-lived item. Thirty-three percent of the meat handlers did not finish grade school and fifty-seven percent of meat handlers achieved a secondary degree of education. Even though the greater part of the handlers of meat had taken preparing on nutrition dealing with and individual cleanliness, their training towards great manufacturing practices was seen as poor. Fifty percent of handlers of meat wore hygienic clean coats while working and an enormous number did not use hair spreads and the nails of their hands were not clean Zerabruk et al. (2019).
Meat Safety and Human Health
The importance of meat in human nourishment cannot be ignored owing to the fact that meat is a very vital food component with proteins, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and fat. In fact, proteins from animal sources are believed to have higher biological value than proteins from other sources, including plants. In spite of these, meat is a potential carrier of a number of bacterial and parasitic diseases and naturally occurring toxins such as mycotoxins, if it gets contaminated through pollution of the air, water, and soil. Persistent exposure to organic pollutants like dioxins
and metals through industrial contaminants often makes the animal and its meat a prominent source of human illness. Further, important zoonotic diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites in humans are attracting global attention and are often labeled as meat-borne zoonotic diseases. In this era of increased international trade and tariffs and competitive markets, the issue of meat safety has become a global one and therefore requires stringent standards and procedures to be adopted worldwide in order to maintain safety and quality standards. As safety and quality issues have become more relevant than the quantity of meat and meat products to society, it has become a subject of extensive scientific debate. Hence, research is needed to study the ill effects of the residues of different chemicals, toxins, and pathogenic microorganisms often encountered during the rearing and processing of meat animals (Das et al.,2019).
To improves the quality standards revolving around meat and meat products awareness campaigns, training workshops should be conducted among the butchers as these workers are mainly uneducated. In Pakistan, almost 95% of the meat is sold in the wet market while the rest 5 % is subjected to the processing industry for the making of meat and meat products. Different state departments like the Punjab food authority and Pakistan standards and quality control authority need to implement rules and regulations that can be practically achieved. Meat and its derivative products are always susceptible to contamination right from their starting points of processing up to the consumer’s table. Microbial contamination leads to food-borne diseases in humans. It keeps the food unfit for consumption ad it is considered a spoiled food item.
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Written by:- Zeeshan Rasheed (Food Technologist, NIFSAT, UAF)
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