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The process of cleaning and disinfection of animal transport vehicles after unloading animals at the abattoir is a critical control point regarding proper hygiene. It is an important step regarding the biosecurity. In the present study, a status quo analysis of the currently performed cleaning and disinfection measures of animal transport vehicles was carried out at the vehicle washing facilities of five different industrial abattoirs in Germany. For this purpose, a checklist was developed and validated to assess the washing procedure of transport vehicles in a standardised way. The evaluated phases of cleaning included the evaluation criteria "length of time per used floor", "visual cleaning success" and the "hygienic awareness of the driver". During disinfection, attention was paid to the internal and external surfaces of the transporter and to the methods used to disinfect them. In addition, the technical and structural equipment of the five different washing facilities were recorded using a questionnaire and compared to the legal regulations, respectively. At each location, approximately 150 vehicles of all delivery types (transport vehicles owned by the abattoir, external delivery companies and vehicles owned by the supplying farmers) were inspected so that in total a number of more than 750 vehicles were included in this study. The aim was to develop abattoir specific, as well as generally applicable intervention measures and to generate "standard-operation procedures" (SOP's) for the cleaning and disinfection of animal transporters.
At two out of five locations vehicles have left the abattoir without cleaning and disinfection. In 31-97% of all vehicles, only a cleaning of the vehicle was carried out, a subsequent disinfection did not take place. A cleaning followed by disinfecting took place in only 3-59% of all vehicles.
The results indicate a considerable need for improvement and standardisation in this relevant field of disease prevention.