If you ve ever processed cattle in your life you may have had it happen at some point. A broken needle.
When it happens you may not be sure where it is. Is it actually still in the animal or did it drop to the ground somewhere? The simple truth is that unless you find it on the ground, it really doesn t matter. It needs to be dealt with, and you need to assume the worst and manage the situation responsibly.
How you respond as a producer can have a huge potential effect on your industry. Needle management is one of the fundamentals in Canada s on-farm food safety programs. It s why Animal Health Management is one of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Verified Beef Production program of the Canadian Cattlemen s Association.
What you need to do
There is a recommended course of action if a broken needle occurs. It s important to identify the suspect animal on a permanent record. If the animal is being sold, the next owner must be informed of the fact there is a broken needle in that specific animal.
The animal can be euthanized and disposed of, or keep the animal for slaughter for your own use and manage the meat process accordingly.
There are also some simple management approaches to help prevent and deal most easily with the situation.
On the prevention side an absolute must is never to try and straighten a bent needle. That just never works and is a recipe for disaster. Make sure to securely restrain the animal and use sharp not burred needles. Use shorter needles for subcutaneous injections. And use detectable needles.
Simplest injection site is the neck. If you do have a problem this area of meat can be isolated at custom slaughter at your local abattoir. It s a lot easier to dispose of this lower-value cut of meat than if the injection is in more expensive carcass cuts.
Don t leave it to the packer
Canada s beef-processing industry takes broken needles very seriously. Animals documented as having a broken needle are handled accordingly as individuals. As well, if they know the whereabouts of the suspected broken piece and it is a detectable needle, they may be able to use scanning equipment to identify the broken fragment.
While that effort is ongoing and diligent, the biggest opportunity in managing broken needles is to prevent the potential situation of broken needles in the consumer beef supply in the first place. Act responsibly as a producer and work as a partner in the supply chain.
A lot of people are depending on that.
HELP US PROTECT CANADA S BEEF MARKET
It s not hard to imagine the food safety risk of a broken n[ eedle making it into a meat produc
Consumers are depending on industry to control and prevent this risk from ever taking place.