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Salmonella in pork (salinpork): pre-harvest and harvest control options based on epidemiologic, diagnostic and economic research

Contract nr: FAIR-CT95-0400
Project nr: 400
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/04/1996
Duration: 39 months
Total cost: 2,846,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,824,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Isabel MINGUEZ-TUDELA
Research Topic: Animal health

Animal-borne zoonoses constitute a serious public health problem. Of all meatborne infections, human cases of salmonellosis are considered the most important. Poultry and eggs seem to be the prime source of food-borne salmonellosis, and little information is known about the role of pork. Studies in some countries have shown that about 16% of human salmonellosis may be attributed to pork.

The overall objective is to establish the epidemiological basis, to develop the diagnostic tools and to evaluate options for the control of salmonella in pork at the pre-harvest and harvest levels.

The following tasks were carried out:

1) determining and comparing the prevalence and types of salmonella infections in pig herds in different EU regions, and determining the risk factors for the spread of salmonella infections between and within herds;
2) determining and comparing the prevalence and serotypes of salmonella infections in pork samples from slaughterhouses in different EU regions and identifying critical control points for salmonella contamination;
3) developing and evaluating improved biotechnological diagnostic tools for quantitative detection;
4) evaluating the epidemiologic, diagnostic and economic options for control of salmonella in pork, and proposing methodologies for surveillance and control programmes in the EU, based either on the detection of salmonella organisms or antibodies to salmonella.

At the same time, the most promising diagnostic tools were evaluated in samples from different EU regions and from controlled infection studies.

Current situation/results:
The role of pork as a source of human salmonellosis in EU-member states has been investigated as well as the costs to society imposed by the presence of Salmonella in the pork production chain. Since Salmonella seldom causes noticeable health problems for pigs, producers may be difficult to convince that Salmonella, being an acknowledged zoonosis, is of their concern. Based on experience with the Danish Salmonella surveillance and control programme, the herd-level costs and productivity benefits of Salmonella control measures in pigs were investigated.

A series of epidemiological studies were conducted at the pre-harvest and harvest level of pork production. Herd-level seroprevalence estimates were obtained from Denmark, Germany, Greece and Sweden, based on blood samples from at least 60 slaughter pig herds. These herds were also included in a risk factor study, together with herds from the Netherlands, to assess the association between herd management factors and the introduction and spread of Salmonella in pig herds. Feed and the introduction of pigs into a herd were investigated as potential sources for Salmonella. In a follow-up study, which ran over a two-year period, the stability/persistence of a Salmonella status, be it positive or negative, was investigated. For this purpose, faecal pen samples and blood samples were taken every three months and analysed for Salmonella and antibodies against Salmonella O-antigens respectively.

At the harvest-level of pork production, product and environmental samples were collected at slaughterhouses in Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden to determine the prevalence of Salmonella spp. at slaughter and compare the distribution of Salmonella serotypes. Critical control points for Salmonella contamination and transmission associated with various slaughter procedures were identified. The risk of cross-contamination due to manual handling and processing at slaughter was investigated in Denmark and the Netherlands.

The success of controlling Salmonella very much depends on our ability to detect infection or contamination. Test characteristics for existing diagnostic methods have been reviewed together with newly developed tests. These methods include serological (antigen detection), bacteriological (culture) and nucleic acid detection (PCR-based methods). In particular, the Danish and Dutch mix-ELISA were evaluated in controlled inoculation studies.

All findings in this project are currently being consolidated into a concept for a standardised Salmonella surveillance and intervention program for EU-Member states, including the economic assessment of Salmonella control measures in pigs and pig meat.


Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Bülowsvej 13
DK-1870 Frederiksberg C
Tel.: +45 33 95 6115
Fax: +45 35 28 30 22


    Freie Universität Berlin
    Königsweg 69
    D-14163 Berlin
    Tel.: +49 308 108 25 69
    Fax: +49 308 108 25 52

  • John P. MC INERNEY
    University of Exeter
    St. German's Road - Lafrowda House
    UK-EX4 6TL Exeter
    Tel.: +44 1392 26 38 37
    Fax: +44 1392 26 38 52

  • Peter LIND
    Danish Veterinary Laboratory
    Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
    Bülowsvej 27
    DK-1790 Copenhagen V
    Tel.: +45 35 30 02 32
    Fax: +45 35 30 01 20

  • Jan DAHL
    Federation of Danish Pig Producers and Slaughterhouses
    Axeltorv 3
    DK-1609 Copenhagen V
    Tel.: +45 33 73 25 35
    Fax: +45 33 14 57 56

  • Jozef Maria Antoon SNIJDERS
    University of Utrecht
    Yalelaan 2
    NL-3584 CM Utrecht
    Tel.: +31 30 253 53 62
    Fax: +31 30 253 23 65
  • Martin Jan Marie TIELEN
    Animal Health Service in the Southern Netherlands
    Molenwijkseweg 48
    P.O. BOX 4
    NL-5280 AA Boxtel
    Tel.: +31 411 65 96 00
    Fax: +31 411 65 95 50

  • Constantin GENIGEORGIS
    Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki
    Dept. of Food Hygiene and Technology
    Veterinary School
    GR-540 06 Thessaloniki
    Tel.: +30 31 99 98 21
    Fax: +30 31 99 98 21

  • Anders ENGVALL
    The National Veterinary Institute
    Ulls Väg 2B
    P.O. BOX 7073
    S-750 07 Uppsala
    Tel.: +46 18 67 41 46
    Fax: +46 18 67 44 45
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