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Pork still ‘significant’ source of infection with Salmonella - BVL

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 13-Dec-2016 at 12:50 GMT2016-12-13T12:50:07Z

©iStock/Fleckus. Mett is minced raw pork popular in Germany
©iStock/Fleckus. Mett is minced raw pork popular in Germany

Pork is still a significant source of infection with Salmonella in Germany, according to the Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL).

Annual zoonosis monitoring in 2015 showed contamination of carcasses and meat can occur during slaughter.

It also found the risk of Salmonella infection from pig meat is increased due to raw consumption (eg as Mett) despite the relatively low contamination rate at retail (0.4%).

BVL said the findings show the importance of Salmonella control at the breeding level to prevent introduction of the pathogen into the fattening plants via infected piglets.

Zoonotic monitoring of pathogens

As part of zoonotic monitoring last year, 6,106 samples were taken at all levels of the food chain by the monitoring authorities of federal states and examined for the most important foodborne pathogens.

A total of 2,063 bacterial isolates were further characterized in the National Reference Laboratories at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and resistance to selected antibiotics was investigated.

Findings help surveillance authorities know where the problems are so they can have a closer look at issues raised and so industry and farmers know how to improve.

The focus in 2014 was milk, poultry, chicken and eggs and it was chicken and bovines the year before.

Other results showed Verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) was detected in 0.9% of the samples of fresh beef from the retail sector.

BVL said results confirm that fattening calves and young cattle are a source of human infections with VTEC, especially as isolates also detected O groups, which are known as frequent pathogens of EHEC infections and haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Another focus was coagulase positive Staphylococci, which are bacteria that can multiply under suitable conditions and form enterotoxins leading to food poisoning in a few hours.

They were frequently detected in sheep's milk and goat cheese from raw milk (9.3% positive samples).

In 1.2% of samples the count was above the critical value of 100,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g).

BVL said production of raw milk must meet the highest requirements for the health of milk-yielding animals and there must be a strict human and production hygiene programme.

Parasite potential and BfR symposium

In other findings, a parasitic worm Alaria alata was detected in 4.7% of wild boar samples confirming it as a source of human infection.

However, only a few cases have been reported in humans from North America, which occurred after consumption of insufficiently heated wild meat.

Results underline the recommendation to thoroughly heat wild boar before consumption.

Occurrence of zoonotic pathogens and toxigenic bacteria in the food chain and the associated human risk was the focus of a symposium at the BfR in November.

It focused on how to reduce the spread of Salmonella in pig herds and pork meat, Clostridium difficile as a zoonotic pathogen and toxigenic bacteria. Here it is not the bacterium but the toxin produced by it that causes the health problem.

The focus was on the significance, occurrence and detection of toxigenic Staphylococci, Bacilli and Clostridia.

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