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Progress on Salmonella reduction in ongoing battle

By Joe Whitworth+

20-May-2014
Last updated the 20-May-2014 at 10:40 GMT

Salmonella in eggs is a problem that has been successfully tackled
Salmonella in eggs is a problem that has been successfully tackled

Action to tackle Salmonella from primary production to consumption has made important progress in the last decade but challenges remain, according to an editorial in Eurosurveillance.

Prevalence of Salmonella in poultry populations is considered as the main risk factor for presence of the pathogen in table eggs and poultry meat, said the co-authored editorial.

To control Salmonella in production types of domestic fowls and turkeys, and to limit the risk of contamination of poultry products, national control and surveillance programmes (NCP) have been implemented in the countries in accordance with the EU legislation.

Salmonella strains

Reported foodborne outbreaks decreased from 2011, said the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in an annual EU report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and foodborne outbreaks .

The 2012 report showed that S. Enteritidis, S. Typhimurium and monophasic S. Typhimurium were the serovars most frequently associated with human illness, followed by S. Infantis.

S. Stanley was the causative pathogen in 0.8% and 1.4% of the human cases in 2011 and 2012.

Human S. Enteritidis cases are commonly associated with contaminated eggs and poultry meat, while S. Typhimurium cases are linked to contaminated pig, poultry and bovine meat

EFSA monitors whether EU targets for Salmonella prevalence reduction have been met by the countries and follows the progress made.

Most countries met their reduction targets for poultry in 2012, and the prevalence of the target Salmonella serovars is significantly declining or remaining stable in poultry populations at the EU level.

Decline in cases

Salmonellosis was the second most commonly reported zoonotic infection in the EU in 2007, with 151,995 human cases and a decreasing trend in the notification rate over the past four years.  

The number of notified salmonellosis cases in humans continued to decrease in 2012, to 91,034 cases, part of the declining trend of 30% in the past five years.

It is assumed that the observed reduction is mainly the result of successful Salmonella control programmes in fowl populations resulting in a lower occurrence of Salmonella in eggs, though other control measures might have contributed.

EFSA adopted a Scientific Opinion on an estimation of the public health impact of setting a new target for the reduction of Salmonella in turkeys in March 2012.

Targeted control of Salmonella serovars other than S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium in turkey should be guided by the prevalence and public health impact in each country, said the editorial.

“If sufficient information becomes available to reliably identify particular strains of public health significance, the inclusion of such strains as part of the EU-wide targets should be considered,” they said.

Source: Eurosurveillance, Volume 19, Issue 19, 15 May 2014

“Controlling Salmonella along the food chain in the European Union – Progress over the last ten years”

Authors: M Hugas and P A Beloeil