EFSA assesses turkey meat salmonella threat

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Salmonella, European union

About one third of EU turkey flocks designated for human
consumption were found to contain some presence of salmonella
between 2006 and 2007, according to new findings by the European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The risk assessor said that 30.7 per cent of tested turkey farms supplying meat for human consumption posed an infection risk. The findings, conducted by an EFSA task force, are expected to influence future policy initiatives in the bloc in a bid to reduce salmonella at farm level to protect against contamination in the food chain. According to EFSA, salmonella was the second most reported case of food-borne disease in the bloc during 2006, with 160,649 suffering infection from some strain of the pathogen. The main risks of salmonella result from under cooking of turkey meat or cross contamination into other foods, the authority stated. While turkey meat flocks were found to hold a higher risk of carrying salmonella in the bloc, 13.6 per cent of birds used for breeding also showed contamination, according to the study. Human risk ​ In terms of specific strains, Salmonella​ Enteritidisand and Salmonella​ Typhimurium, which are most linked to food infections in humans, were detected in 3.8 per cent of flocks assigned for human consumption. The same varieties were found in 1.7 per cent of breeding stocks, according to the findings. Significant national discrepancies in the pressence salmonella in turkey flocks was one pattern found by the study. Three member states in the bloc reported no cases of salmonella infection in turkey meat flocks, with more than half of EU countries giving the all clear for their breeding stocks. By contrast, some other EU countries found infection rates within meat flocks to be as high as 78.5 per cent, while 82.9 per cent of breeding birds were suspected of carrying some form of salmonella in the testing. Methodology ​ The study took place between October 2006 and September 2007, with five environmental faeces samples taken from breeding turkey flocks within nine weeks of their slaughter date and three weeks before meat birds were slaughtered. Over the study period, a total of 539 breeding turkey flocks and 3,769 fattening turkey flocks from the EU and Norway were tested, according to EFSA. Future study ​ The findings, which are the first to take an EU-wide view of salmonella in turkey are expected to be followed up in the future with further study. In addition, EFSA says it is also set to publish another baseline study concerning salmonella​ in pigs reared for human consumption in the next few months.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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