Salmonella present in one in ten pigs

Posted by Isobel Drake on 11th June 2008

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a survey on Salmonella levels detected in slaughtered pigs across the EU in 2006-07 indicating that Salmonella was found in one in ten pigs for human consumption.

Salmonella was estimated on average to be present in 10.3 per cent of pigs slaughtered for human consumption, according to the EU-wide report from an EFSA Task Force. Levels for Salmonella detected in pigs varied from 0% to 29% between Member States.

Among all Salmonella detected, Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Derby (which are two common Salmonella types found in infection cases in humans) were detected in 4.7% and 2.1% of pigs slaughtered for human consumption, respectively. Salmonella is 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). 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 typically from under-cooking of pig meat or cross-contamination to other foods. Thorough cooking and strict kitchen hygiene will prevent or reduce the risk posed by Salmonella contaminated pig meat.

Testing of slaughter pigs across the 25 Member States participating in this survey was based on a randomly selected sample drawn from slaughterhouses representing 80% of the pigs slaughtered in each Member State. Only one country reported no cases at all in their slaughtered pig populations for all Salmonella types.

The results of this survey are anticipated to assist the European Commission in setting targets to reduce Salmonella in pigs across the EU.