New Target for Reduction of Salmonella in Turkeys

EU - Of the 5.4 million cases of human salmonellosis in 2010, 2.6 per cent of these cases were attributed to turkeys.
calendar icon 16 April 2012
clock icon 4 minute read

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific opinion estimates the public health impact of setting a new target for the reduction of Salmonella in turkeys.

Specifically, EFSA was asked to indicate and rank the Salmonella serovars with public health significance, to assess the impact of a reduction of the prevalence of Salmonella in breeding flocks of turkeys on the prevalence of Salmonella in flocks of fattening turkeys and to assess the relative public health impact if a new target for reduction of Salmonella is set in turkeys being one per cent or less of flocks remaining positive for all Salmonella serovars with public health significance, compared to (1) the theoretical prevalence at the end of the transitional period (one per cent or less flocks remaining positive for Salmonella Enteritidis and/or Salmonella Typhimurium), and (2) the real prevalence in 2010 reported by the Member States (MSs).

The top-6 serovars of fattening turkeys that contribute most to human cases are S. Enteritidis, S. Kentucky, S. Typhimurium, S. Newport, S. Virchow and S. Saintpaul.

For the other Salmonella sources considered, the model estimated that around 17.0 per cent, 56.8 per cent and 10.6per cent of the estimated number of human salmonellosis cases could be attributed to reservoirs relating to laying hens (eggs), pigs and broilers, respectively.

However, when considering the risk between turkey meat and the other three sources weighted by the tonne of food available for consumption, the risk of infection is highest when consuming table eggs closely followed by the consumption of pig meat, whereas the risks associated with broiler and turkey meat were similar and approximately two-fold lower.

The Panel concluded that (1) considering that the current transitional target of the EU control programme of Salmonella in fattening turkey flocks would be met (i.e. the combined prevalence of S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium being one per cent or less), and keeping the prevalence for the other 21 serovars as per the 2010 harmonised monitoring in turkey flocks, an estimated reduction in the number of turkey-associated human salmonellosis cases of 0.4 per cent compared to the situation in 2010 is expected (in 2010 all MSs except one had already met the transitional target); (2) considering that an EU-wide target of maximum of one per cent of flocks remaining positive for the all the Salmonella serovars considered in the model would be met, an estimated reduction in the number of turkey-associated human salmonellosis cases of 83.2 per cent compared to the situation in 2010 is expected, corresponding to a 2.2 per cent reduction of all human salmonellosis cases. The Panel emphasised that the individual MS contributions to the estimated reductions vary greatly.

The Panel finally concluded that the main factors contributing to the uncertainty of the model results, apart from statistical uncertainties, are the lack of harmonised monitoring of human salmonellosis in the EU as well as the different levels of serovar detail reported in both the human and animal food source data. These uncertainties could not be statistically quantified with the model employed to support this Scientific Opinion.

The Panel makes a series of recommendations related to the establishment of active surveillance of human salmonellosis in all MSs including harmonised typing of human Salmonella isolates and efforts to quantify the level of under-ascertainment and underreporting.

It is recommended to investigate the effectiveness of different sampling options at primary production, in order to ensure comparability of results, and to implement reliable tests, epidemiological studies and accurate reporting in order to identify emerging strains and antimicrobial use, and to apply targeted control measures. Comparable data on Salmonella in cattle would be necessary to obtain better estimates on the public health impact of different animal reservoirs.

Further Reading

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Charlotte Johnson

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