EU-wide survey on Salmonella levels in turkeys

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The EFSA has published a survey on Salmonella levels detected on commercial turkey farms across the European Union in 2006/2007.

The full range of Salmonella types was estimated on average to be present in almost one third of turkey flocks reared for human consumption (30.7%) and in 13.6% of turkey flocks kept for breeding purposes, according to an EU-wide report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Amongst the full range of Salmonella types, Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium (the two Salmonella types responsible for the majority of Salmonella-related food infections in humans) were detected in 3.8% of flocks reared for human consumption and in 1.7% of breeding flocks. Salmonella was the second most reported cause of food-borne diseases in humans in Europe with 160,649 people suffering from Salmonella infections in 2006 (approximately 35 people in every 100,000).

These results will now help the European Commission in setting targets to reduce Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium in turkey flocks across the EU.

Levels for the full range of Salmonella types detected in turkey flocks varied quite significantly between Member States. Three Member States reported no cases at all in flocks reared for human consumption, while others detected levels as high as 78.5%. In the case of breeding flocks, more than half of the countries also reported no cases at all in their flocks, while others detected levels as high as 82.9%. In addition to Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, the two Salmonella types responsible for the majority of Salmonella-infections in humans, some countries also reported high levels of other types of Salmonella.

Salmonella is the second most reported cause of food-borne diseases in humans in Europe. Infections can range from a mild to severe gastroenteritis and in some vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly can be fatal. Risks for consumers are from under-cooking of turkey meat or cross-contamination to other foods. Thorough cooking and strict kitchen hygiene will prevent or reduce the risk posed by Salmonella contaminated turkey meat.

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