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Food safety: 0% Salmonella in Swedish chicken, 40% in US

Christian Fernsby |
Contaminated meat and poultry products are responsible for an estimated 2 million bacterial illnesses in the US each year.

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The Pew Charitable Trusts says that a comprehensive approach to poultry and meat safety must start on the holding because harmful bacteria often originate there and then enter the slaughterhouse with food animals.

In a 2017 report, “Food Safety From Farm to Fork: Interventions on Farms and Feedlots Can Improve U.S. Meat and Poultry Safety,” The Pew Charitable Trusts examined existing food safety control measures aimed at reducing Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli O157:H7 contamination of cattle, chicken, and swine before slaughter.

This issue brief outlines the interventions that were found to be effective on farms, many of which can be implemented with products already available to U.S. livestock businesses.

It’s time to seize these opportunities to decrease foodborne illnesses linked to meat and poultry.

The study highlights the effective work carried out in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark in implementing successful food safety control programmes to reduce Salmonella contamination in poultry and swine, noting the strict on-farm biosecurity measures in force.

These include cleaning and disinfecting animal housing, extensive testing and monitoring for Salmonella in the animals and feed, culling of infected breeding animals and separate handling of Salmonella-positive flocks at slaughter.

The results show that no Salmonella was detected in a sample of 4,033 Swedish poultry carcases in 2017; less than 1% of Norwegian and Finnish poultry flocks were contaminated with the pathogen in 2016 and more than 500,000 human infections from the bacterium were avoided in Denmark between 1994 and 2005.

In contrast, among USDA-regulated raw poultry products, Salmonella contaminates about 5% of whole chicken carcases, 15% of chicken parts such as legs, breasts and wings and 40% of ground chicken.

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