The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has carried out two studies on Salmonella in German fattening pig and turkey stocks as a part of an EU-wide monitoring programme.
Upon completion, the EU will use the results to draw-up European-wide and country-specific campaigns to reduce Salmonella in fattening pigs and turkeys.
The study revealed that around 13% of the fattening pigs tested were infected with Salmonella. For chickens, around 10% of broilers showed signs of Salmonella, while breeders were free of the bacteria.
“This shows that the fight against Salmonella for consumer protection must begin at the breeding and fattening stages”, commented Professor Dr Andreas Hensel, president of the Institute.
In total, 2569 samples of the gut lymph nodes were tested for bacteria. Of 326 pigs (12.7%), Salmonella was found to be present. The reference laboratory at the Institute found traces of Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium. 55.2% of the samples were of the Salmonella Typhimurium type and 3.1% of Salmonella Enteritidis.
Overall, the results showed that fattening pigs and turkeys are potential sources of infection for humans.
At the slaughtering stage, Salmonella from infected animals can remain in the meat products produced. For this reason, hygiene is imperative at slaughter houses and processing facilities. As Salmonella is sensitive to heat, the best protection for consumers is to cook the product thoroughly.
The European Food Safety Authority will gather the results from all participating countries in order to coordinate further action plans.