UK welcomes European layer flock salmonella survey

by 5m Editor
16 June 2006, at 12:00am

UK - A new report released today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows measures used to reduce salmonella contamination on layer flock holdings appear to be working.

UK welcomes European salmonella survey - UK - A new report released today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows measures used to reduce salmonella contamination on layer flock holdings appear to be working.

Vets who tested dust and other material found in poultry houses, as well as bird faeces, in 454 farms in the UK found only 12 per cent to show evidence of contamination. The comparatively low figure is encouraging as it ranks the UK infection rate among the lowest third in Europe. All EU member states were required to carry out surveys - the first to be carried out across Europe.

It aims to determine the prevalence of salmonella in the environment on commercial layer flock holdings and will form a baseline against which future surveys will be compared. The aim is to help competent authorities across the EU fix a target to reduce the prevalence of salmonella, thereby helping food safety and reduce the risk of human infection.

Ben Bradshaw, animal health and welfare minister, welcomed the report from EFSA and the analysis of the survey results, published today. Mr Bradshaw said: “Measures introduced by Government and industry to control salmonella on poultry premises have proved successful. “Latest figures show that the number of reported cases of salmonella in humans is at its lowest level since a peak in 1997. Recent surveys of UK produced eggs on sale in shops have shown a significant reduction in the level of contamination compared with previous surveys.

“However, further improvements can be made and this survey of UK layer flock holdings added to the results of surveys by our European partners will help us bring down the level of contamination still further. “We are working with the industry and other partners to develop statutory control programmes to meet targets when they are set. This will build on programmes already operated by the industry on a voluntary basis.”

The report released today is an interim draft report. The final report is expected later this year. Defra will discuss the final report with key stakeholders and consider any necessary action with respect to the national control plan for layer flocks The main UK results are:

  • The observed holding prevalence for Salmonella was estimated at 11.9 per cent.
  • The most common serovar, S enteritidis (SE), had a prevalence of 6.3 per cent and the most common phage type of SE was phage type 4. Human infections caused by this phage type have been falling progressively in the UK over the last five years.
  • The second most common serovar was S typhimurium (ST) at 1.8 per cent.
  • Of the other three Salmonella serovars considered by the EU to be of special public health significance S. infantis and S . virchow were isolated from only one layer flock holding each and no S. hadar was found in the UK survey.
  • Holdings having flocks vaccinated for Salmonella were less likely to be positive for S E and ST in the preliminary analysis of the UK results; further work is being carried out on this aspect.
  • Salmonella contamination was more likely to be identified on holdings with larger numbers of laying birds than those with fewer birds
  • In the UK no isolates were resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin or cephalosporins, which are the most likely to be used for severe Salmonella infections in humans.
  • The report can be found at:
Source: Defra - 16th June 2006

5m Editor