Salmonella control in poultry flocks and its public health impact
An increase in confirmed human salmonellosis cases in the EU after 2014 triggered investigation of contributory factors and control options in poultry production. Reconsideration of the five current target serovars for breeding hens showed that there is justification for retaining Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Typhimurium (including monophasic variants) and Salmonella Infantis, while Salmonella Virchow and Salmonella Hadar could be replaced by Salmonella Kentucky and either SalmonellaHeidelberg, Salmonella Thompson or a variable serovar in national prevalence targets. However, a target that incorporates all serovars is expected to be more effective as the most relevant serovars in breeding flocks vary between Member State (MS) and over time. Achievement of a 1% target for the current target serovars in laying hen flocks is estimated to be reduced by 254,400 CrI95[98,540; 602,700] compared to the situation in 2016. This translates to a reduction of 53.4% CrI95[39.1; 65.7] considering the layer‐associated human salmonellosis true cases and 6.2% considering the overall human salmonellosis true cases in the 23 MSs included in attribution modelling. A review of risk factors for Salmonella in laying hens revealed that overall evidence points to a lower occurrence in non‐cage compared to cage systems. A conclusion on the effect of outdoor access or impact of the shift from conventional to enriched cages could not be reached. A similar review for broiler chickens concluded that the evidence that outdoor access affects the occurrence of Salmonella is inconclusive. There is conclusive evidence that an increased stocking density, larger farms and stress result in increased occurrence, persistence and spread of Salmonella in laying hen flocks. Based on scientific evidence, an impact of Salmonella control programmes, apart from general hygiene procedures, on the prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler flocks at the holding and on broiler meat at the end of the slaughter process is not expected.