EU launches study on Salmonella in pigs

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Salmonella, Foodborne illness

The EU's food safety agency will assess the public health risks
posed by the presence of Salmonella in pigs.

The study could be used as the basis to impose further EU food safety restrictions on pork processors in a bid to reduce Salmonella infections. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said yesterday it would outsource part of the task to a consortium of European institutes as a means of getting a more balanced study of the problem. "This work will support risk managers in taking further measures to tackle Salmonella, which infects hundreds of thousands of people each year in the EU mainly due to contaminated food including pig meat,"​ EFSA said. The institutes will conduct a quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA), which EFSA says should provide an estimate of the existing factors and the likely effects of proposed measures to reduce them. The researchers are also tasked with pinpointing the sources of infection for slaughter pigs at farm level, and with assessing the impact of the slaughter processes on the contamination of pig carcasses. They will then provide analysis of the expected effect of reducing Salmonella in slaughter pigs on Salmonella prevalence in pig meat and Salmonella food poisoning cases in people. This will be the first time a number of European institutes pool their resources and expertise to feed into an EU level assessment funded and led by EFSA. The Commission said the assessment will provide essential input in preparing to set targets for reducing Salmonella in pigs. The Commission will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of any possible targets before they are approved, taking account of the new scientific data. Current EU legislation covers the control of Salmonella and other food-borne agents and set EU-wide reduction targets. The regulations are part of the overall EU strategy to reduce food borne diseases and are line with a timetable for drawing up Salmonella reduction targets for different animal species, which were set out in a 2003 regulation on zoonoses. Similar EU-wide studies, targets and controls have already been put in place for the poultry sector. By far the most frequently reported zoonotic diseases in humans are salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, with the most deadly being listerious, according to an European Commission study published last year. The study found there were 192,703 reported cases of salmonellosis and 183,961 of campylobacteriosis cases reported during 2004 in the EU's 25 member states. The cases are out of a total of 400,000 human cases of zoonoses reported. Most of the cases were foodborne and associated with mild to severe intestinal problems. Zoonoses are diseases, which are transmissible from animals to humans. The infection can be acquired directly from animals, or through ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs. The seriousness of the diseases in humans can vary from mild symptoms to life threatening conditions.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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