EFSA evaluates Salmonella contamination of pigs at slaughter

EFSA’s Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection has today published an analysis of the risk factors related to Salmonella in slaughter pigs within the European Union (EU). Whilst the results revealed that Salmonella infected pigs were more likely to lead to Salmonella contaminated carcasses, these could also come from uninfected pigs. Moreover, the Salmonella carcass contamination was more likely to happen in some slaughterhouses than in others. The report will serve as a scientific basis to assist Member States in defining the best control measures for reaching the Salmonella reduction targets to be defined by the European Commission[1].

EFSA’s Task Force recommended that Member States and the EU pig industry pay specific attention to preventing Salmonella spread within slaughterhouses, as they proved to have an important role in the contamination of pig meat.

The Task Force noted that control measures at the pig farm level would also be necessary for reducing Salmonella occurrence in pigs and pig meat and that consideration should be given to integrated control programmes covering both farms and slaughterhouses.

The analysis revealed some similarities between the Salmonella types most frequently reported in humans and those found in slaughter pigs, indicating that pigs and pig meat do contribute to Salmonella infections in humans, though other animal species and food can also be a source for infection in humans.

Some factors related to Salmonella infections were found to vary considerably between countries.
The Task Force report invited Member States to consider the factors highlighted in the report together with the ones identified in national studies when designing national Salmonella control programmes for slaughter pigs. Member States are also invited to carry out further studies at national level in order to identify the specific factors that put pigs and pig carcasses at risk of Salmonella contamination.

Notes to editors

Objectives, sampling frame, diagnostic testing methods, as well as data collection, evaluation, reporting and timelines of the baseline survey are all specified in Commission Decisions 2006/668/EC[2] and 2007/219/EC[3] concerning a baseline survey on the prevalence of Salmonella in slaughter pigs.

Pigs were randomly selected from those slaughterhouses that together account for 80% of the pigs slaughtered within each Member State. All participating Member States (and Norway) sampled lymph nodes from the selected slaughtered pigs. The lymph node results reflect the Salmonella infection status of the pigs. Moreover, 13 Member States additionally sampled pigs’ carcasses by swabbing in order to define the external contamination risk of carcasses.

[1] Commission Regulation No 584/2008
[2] Commission Decision of 29 September 2006 concerning a financial contribution from the Community towards a baseline survey on the prevalence of Salmonella in slaughter pigs to be carried out in the Member States. OJ L 275, 6.10.2006, p. 51.
[3] Commission Decision of 30 March 2007 concerning a financial contribution from the Community towards a baseline survey on the prevalence of Salmonella in slaughter pigs to be carried out in Bulgaria and Romania. OJ L 95, 5.4.2007, p. 41.

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