New Zealand outlines strategy to cut incidence of salmonella in food

Posted by Isobel Drake on 23rd April 2009

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has launched its plan to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in food. There are 1,274 cases reported by Australia’s eastern neighbours to public health units a year, or 30.2 cases for every 100,000 New Zealanders.

NZFSA’s Salmonella risk management strategy spells out a specific programme of work aimed at reducing the incidence of foodborne salmonellosis.

NZFSA Principal Advisor (Risk Management) Judi Lee noted that foodborne diseases have a major impact on New Zealanders’ health and the economy so it’s important to reduce their prevalence.

“Salmonella is recognised as one of the three most important pathogens in New Zealand, second only to Campylobacter,” she advised. “That’s why NZFSA has earmarked this disease as one of its key strategic priorities. We aim to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in the annual incidence of foodborne salmonellosis after five years.”

“As no single primary exposure pathway has been established in New Zealand, this will require a good deal of effort,” Ms Lee explained. “The early stages of the strategy will focus on intelligence gathering from a wide range of domestic food sectors and imported foods to try to identify the main sources of foodborne disease. This information will provide a sound scientific basis for pinpointing where in the food chain we need to take action.”

Some studies of Salmonella in the food chain have been completed but there are many gaps in this knowledge, she explained. Further research is needed to determine the incidence of foodborne salmonellosis from specific food types such as animal products, plant products, domestically produced and imported foods as well as wildlife reservoirs.

Ms Lee said the NZFSA required more robust New Zealand data on Salmonella to refine the strategy’s future direction.

“Many of the primary processing industries hold a significant amount of data on Salmonella, as do some of the major retailing chains. NZFSA will be collaborating with a wide range of food sectors to gain a better understanding of the prevalence of Salmonella in food. This information will help us decide what controls are required.”

More information about NZFSA’s Salmonella risk management strategy is available on the NZFSA website