Salmonella and pig production
The Food Standards Agency's strategic plan for 2005-2010 states our aim to achieve a further significant reduction in foodborne illness. This includes the more specific target of working with industry to achieve a 50% reduction in the numbers of pigs testing positive for salmonella at slaughter by 2010.
Salmonella – background
Salmonella can infect a wide range of animals, including pigs and humans. In pigs, weaners and growers are most commonly affected but symptoms are rarely seen, making infection difficult to recognise. It is these animals that risk spreading infection to the rest of the herd and may cause salmonella to enter the food chain.
Salmonella can cause salmonellosis in humans and is the second most common cause of food poisoning in the UK after campylobacter. Pork and pork products have been identified as a significant source of salmonella; therefore a reduction in the risk associated with these products will contribute to the protection of human health.
Abattoir surveys and ZAP
In 2003, Defra conducted a survey of animals at slaughter in Great Britain to determine the faecal carriage of pathogens, including salmonella in pigs. This study was similar in design to a previous abattoir survey conducted in 1999-2000. In the 1999-2000 survey salmonella was isolated from 23% of caecal samples taken from slaughter pigs and from 5.3% of carcasses. No improvement in levels of salmonella was found during the second survey in 2003, with 23.4% of caecal samples testing positive.
The results from these surveys indicate the need to take action. The industry recognised this need and the British Pig Executive (BPEX), together with the FSA and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), launched the Zoonoses Action Plan (ZAP) in June 2002. The overall aim of this scheme is to monitor trends in the levels of salmonella on pig farms so that action can be taken to reduce the prevalence in pigs presented for slaughter. More details on the ZAP scheme, including annual reports and access to the ZAP database, can be accessed using the link at the bottom of this page.
Following the introduction of the Food Hygiene Regulations in January 2006 (Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004, 853/2004, 854/2004), the responsibility for the production of safe food now lies with the food business operator. This responsibility extends from the primary producer up through the food chain to the consumer; a farm-to-fork approach.
The EU Zoonoses Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 requires Member States to take effective measures to detect and control salmonellas in specified animal species, including pigs. An EU survey of pigs at slaughter is being carried out in the UK by Defra in partnership with the FSA, and will establish baseline data on the incidence of salmonella in the EU. The Agency has also provided funding for additional testing of caecum samples from the UK pigs. The outputs from these surveys are likely to form the basis of new legislation setting targets for the reduction of salmonella, to be achieved through the implementation of National Control Plans.
Back to basics campaign
The 'Serious about Salmonella' campaign was launched at a conference held in March 2007. It is targeted at those involved in the primary stage of the pig production chain, highlighting the need to be proactive in terms of on-farm biosecurity to control salmonella risk.
To promote the campaign's key messages, the Agency will run a number of regional workshops in early 2008 and will also be exhibiting at the Pig and Poultry Fair in May 2008. A copy of the advertisement and invitation for the regional workshops, as included in Pig World, can be found at the link at the bottom of this page.
Five key messages underpin the back to basics campaign, practising these can help control salmonella and help improve herd health generally; positively effecting general performance and productivity on the unit. These key messages are:
- salmonella control starts with weaners
- source and maintain salmonella free breeding stock
- know the salmonella status of your weaners and manage pigs to control cross contamination
- Rodents, wild birds and cats carry salmonella.
- make sure pigs, buildings, feed and feed stores are protected, vermin controlled and cats excluded
- farm hygiene and biosecurity can prevent salmonella infection
- keep buildings, overalls, boots and farm equipment clean and disinfected and control visitors and vermin
- All-in, all-out production can control cross-contamination between batches.
- clean and disinfect effectively between batches
- have a one way pig flow
- aim for small group sizes with minimal mixing
- manage sick pens and do not mix sick pigs back into main production
- pig health, feed and water can help control salmonella infection.
- management for a healthy herd will reduce stress and help control salmonella
- meal or liquid feeding may help control salmonella
- acidification of feed or water can promote gut health and minimise salmonella and other infections
Guidance for pig producers
An information booklet has been produced to provide practical advice on how to make improvements on the farm to help control salmonella infection. The booklet is accompanied by a DVD and posters, all of which are suitable for education and training purposes.
You can either download the booklet and posters (from the link below) or order copies free of charge by contacting:
Food Standards Agency publications:
Tel: 0845 606 0667
Minicom: 0845 606 0678
Fax: 020 8867 3225
The DVD can be ordered by contacting: