Weekly Overview: Study Reveals Extent of Breaks in Animal Health Product Cold Chain

ANALYSIS – A new study from the US shows just how poor storage conditions can be at retailers and on farms for animal health products. If the results represent the industry generally, it is little wonder that vaccines, antibiotics and other products sometimes give disappointing results! There are signs that the H7N9 avian flu crisis is abating in China and the Mexican authorities have reported no new outbreaks in the region of Puebla. However, another low-pathogenic form of the flu virus has been reported at a farm in Spain in the last week.
calendar icon 24 May 2013
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Animal health products including vaccines and antibiotics usually have defined storage conditions to maintain their efficacy. These conditions, stated on the packaging, need to be kept to throughout the supply chain but a recently published case study involving beef producers in Idaho has revealed less-than-ideal refrigeration storage conditions for these products at retailers and on-farm.

Idaho beef producers and animal health product retailers participated in a study to gather data on the handling and management of animal health products.

In the study, the University of Idaho placed data loggers in 176 refrigerators (129 belonging to producers and 47 with retailers), recording temperatures in 10-minute intervals for a minimum of 48 hours.

The approximate age, type and location of the producers' refrigerators were recorded, along with where the products were stored in the refrigerator. An inventory of each producers' refrigerator was taken, with expired and opened products recorded.

Almost one-third (31 per cent) of the producers' refrigerators maintained the recommended temperature range of 2 to 7°C for more than 95 per cent of the time but one-third (33 per cent) of the producers' refrigerators maintained the recommended temperature range less than five per cent of the time.

Thirty-four per cent of the retailers' refrigerators were within the recommended temperature range for more than 95 per cent of the time. However, 17 per cent were in the range less than five per cent of the time. More than 40 per cent of retailers did not monitor refrigerator temperatures.

Turning to news of bird flu, no new human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported in China in the last week and official are doing their utmost to convince the local population that the danger is over, including eating poultry meat in public. H7N9-positive samples are still being reported at some markets.

Shanghai retailers are now allowed to sell chicken meat again, which will come as a relief to hard-pressed poultry farmers who have seen close to a market collapse for their product over the last few weeks.

Low-pathogenic H7N1 avian flu has been reported in breeding hens at a farm in the Spanish region of Catalonia in the last week. Of the 12,000-plus birds in the flock, 133 died and rest have been destroyed.

In Mexico, surveillance has uncovered no new cases of bird flu in Puebla, according to the Ministry of Agriculture (SAGARPA).

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