You are here:

Zoonoses: National Control Programmes for the reduction of Salmonella

Defra Approved Laboratories

National Control Programme

The EU Zoonoses Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 requires Member States to take effective measures to detect and control Salmonellas of public health significance in specified animal species at all relevant stages of production. Following a 12 month survey to establish the baseline for Salmonella in the animal species a target is agreed for its reduction in the Member States.

Member States aim to meet these targets through an agreed National Control Programme (NCP). Although the Commission sets a framework, it is likely that these programmes will vary to some extent between the countries due to different circumstances, whilst achieving the same aim.

These NCPs are established to protect human health by achieving agreed targets through auditable 3 year programmes to reduce the prevalence of certain zoonoses in animal populations at primary production level, and where necessary, other stages of the food chain. They cover farm animal species which present a potential risk of transmitting Salmonella and other zoonotic agents to humans. These are currently restricted to poultry (breeding flocks of Gallus gallus, laying hens, broilers and turkeys) and pigs (herds of slaughter and breeding pigs). The Zoonoses Regulation provides the framework for adding zoonotic agents other than Salmonella, and other animal species, in the future.

The Scope of National Control Programmes

The NCPs will cover at least animal feed production, primary animal production and processing and preparation of food of animal origin (on which the Food Standards Agency will lead). They will entail:

  • Defining the responsibilities of the competent authorities and the approval of laboratories for analysis of samples
  • Set out control measures if a zoonoses of public health significance is detected
  • Provide regular assessments of sampling results
  • Registration of poultry operators and record keeping at farms for greater traceability and auditing

Timetable for National Control Programmes

Four 12-month surveys have been completed which comprised, layer and broiler flocks of domestic fowl (Gallus gallus), turkey flocks and slaughter pigs. For breeders, the results of the on-going statutory monitoring for Salmonella required in these flocks were used. For layers (hens producing eggs for human consumption) and for broilers (chickens reared for meat) the surveys were carried out using the same protocol in each Member State and completed by taking samples from randomly selected farms. The samples are then sent to the National Reference Laboratory for analysis for Salmonella. The 12 month baseline survey for breeding pigs commenced at the start of January 2008 along with an additional survey for broiler carcasses incorporating Campylobacter, Anti-microbial resistance and Salmonella.

The complete data of these studies are presented in confidence to the Commission by all Member States for supply to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for analysis. The results are collated by the European Commission to assess levels of the specified Zoonoses in the EU, and this data can then be used by the Commission to propose targets for their reduction. This data are made publicly available at the end of this process.

Within six months of the Community target for the reduction of Salmonella being set, Member States will be expected to submit their programmes to the Commission for approval. The sampling required in the NCP starts 18 months after the date on which the target has been set. We are working in partnership with industry representatives to develop NCPs for all sectors.

Specific Animal Populations

Breeding flocks of Gallus gallus

In order to prepare for the setting of the first Community target for the control of Salmonella in breeding flocks of Gallus gallus within 12 months of entry into force of the Regulation, it was necessary to collect relevant data in Member States in a sufficient period of time. This commenced from 1 January 2004 and all countries provided the results of sampling according to the minimum requirements for breeding flocks. In addition some countries provided data on sampling at hatchery level as requested. The final reports received from the 25/26 countries covered the whole year 2004.

Regulation (EC) No 1003/2005 set a target for the breeding flock sector to ensure that no more than 1% of breeding flocks with more than 250 birds remain positive for Salmonellas of human health significance by end of 2009. The Control of Salmonella in Poultry Order 2007 implements this in England. Parallel Legislation exists in the Devolveds Administrations.

The EU targets for breeding flocks (Gallus gallus) cover the 5 most frequent serotypes in human cases which are: S. Enteritidis, S. Typhimurium, S. Virchow, S. Hadar and S. Infantis. The summary of the survey results are contained in the EU Report on Salmonella in breeding flocks of Gallus gallus.

See Layer hens sector below.

Consultation on the implementation of the UK National Control Programme for Breeders (Gallus gallus)

The programme to protect public health by updating and enhancing existing controls on Salmonella in poultry breeding flocks of domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) was put out to consultation in August 2006.

These measures replaced and enhanced previous controls contained in The Poultry Breeding Flocks Order 1993. The operators also have to meet minimum sampling requirements as set out in the NCP to verify the achievement of this target and take special measures in the event that specific Salmonellas are discovered.

Defra asked food producers, vets, consumers and retailers how they thought the National Control Programme should be implemented. The consultation deadline was 3 November 2006 and a summary of responses of the consultation issues has been published.

Industry organisations supported the implementation of the NCP and agreed that industry and government should take a partnership approach to the collection and auditing of the sampling requirements enabling industry to manage parts of the sampling programme in partnership with government. This should control the costs to operators and the demands on veterinary resources without compromising the monitoring and controls which the legislation puts in place.

Laying hens sector

A survey of laying hens for Salmonella carried out by Member States was completed in October 2005, and the results of this baseline survey were used to set a target for the reduction of Salmonella of public health significance in layer flocks. Commission Regulation (EC) 1168/2006 set the Community target for reduction of Salmonella in flocks of laying hens.

For the UK it will mean an annual reduction by 10% of the number of flocks of adult laying hens infected with S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium compared with the previous year, starting in 2008. The baseline figure for UK was 8% for Salmonellas of human health significance. Defra issued a News release on the EFSA report on layer flocks in June 2006 and subsequently the Preliminary report was made available on the EFSA website.

The final EFSA Report and Summary of the Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection on the Analysis of the baseline study on the prevalence of Salmonella in holdings of laying hen flocks have been published.

The National Control Programme (NCP) for laying flocks sets out the monitoring and controls that primary producers should follow on holdings with rearing and laying flocks of domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) that are kept for the commercial production of eggs for human consumption. The layer NCP, and domestic legislation that will enforce it in the UK, will implement the following EU legislation:

  • EC Regulation 2160/2003 which sets out the framework for Salmonella control programmes in poultry and pigs, and includes further controls to protect public health
  • EC Regulation 1168/2006 which sets an annual reduction target for Salmonella Enteriditis and Salmonella Typhimurium for each Member State based on the baseline level that was determined in the 12 month survey of layer flock holdings in 2004/5.

Consultation on the National Control Programme for Salmonella in Laying Flocks (Gallus gallus)

The UK NCP for laying flocks (implemented by the Poultry Order 2007) went out to public consultation on 18 July 2007 and closed on 10 October 2007 in order for the legislation to be in place be February 2008. The consultation documents and summary of consultation responses are available at the links below:

The Control Of Salmonella in Poultry Regulations 2007 (The Poultry Order)

The National Control Programme for Laying flocks of domestic fowl came into force on 1 February 2008 and is enforced by the Control of Salmonella in Poultry Order 2007 (‘The Poultry Order’). In addition the Poultry Order revokes and remakes monitoring controls for breeding flocks implemented by the Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries Order 2007 which were required by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1003/2005 and was set out in the NCP.

Defra continues to hold regular meetings with key industry representatives to resolve detailed issues regarding implementation of the NCP, including plans for the enforcement of restrictions for the sale of eggs from infected flocks which will be in place from January 2009.

Further guidance on the NCP was issued to operators on the sampling and testing regime and a calendar to promote the National Control Programme for Laying Flocks has been produced.

Broiler sector

Between October 2005 and September 2006 VLA, Defra and the broiler industry were also involved in a survey of commercial broiler flocks to determine the prevalence of Salmonella.

In England this survey was implemented under the Salmonella in Broiler Flocks (Survey Powers) Regulations 2005. Parallel legislation came into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Many operators already sample their broilers on a regular basis for Salmonella and know the situation on their holding. However this survey was designed to ensure that sampling methods were identical in all Member States and that the results were truly comparable.

EFSA issued a Press release on 3 April 2007 on this EU-wide survey on Salmonella levels in broiler meat flocks. The EFSA Report on broiler survey results and a Summary have also been published. Informed by these results, the European Commission and Member States have agreed an EU-wide reduction target in broiler flocks for two of the Salmonella types (Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium) that are responsible for most cases of Salmonella related food poisoning in humans. The target is a reduction of the maximum percentage of flocks of broilers remaining positive for these serotypes to 1% or less by 31 December 2011. The National Control Programme for broilers was submitted to the Commission in December 2007. The details and implementation of the National Control Programme for broiler flocks will be drafted during the course of 2008 and is expected to go out to consultation during that summer in order for the legislation to be in place for January 2009.

Consultation on the Control of Salmonella in Broilers 2008

The UK National Control Programme for the control of Salmonella in Broiler Flocks (Gallus gallus) went out to public consultation on 23 September 2008 and closed on 15 December 2008. The consultation documents, post consultation Impact Assessment and summary of consultation responses are available at the links below.

The Control of Salmonella in Broiler Flocks Order 2009

The National Control Programme for Broiler Flocks of domestic fowl came into force on 9 March 2009 and is enforced by the Control of Salmonella in Broiler Flocks Order 2009. The NCP for broilers, like the NCPs for breeders and layers, sets out the monitoring and controls producers must follow to reduce and/or control the prevalence of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) to 1% or less by 31 December 2011.

The NCP requires specific control measures following the detection of Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium to protect human health. These are intended to help prepare producers for compliance with the microbiological criteria for Salmonella absence in fresh poultry meat (as required by Zoonoses Regulation 2160/2003). Please see the link below for the new legislation to the Salmonella National Control Programme in broiler flocks.

Turkey sector

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released the initial results of its EU-wide survey of Salmonella prevalence in turkey flocks on 13 May 2008. The baseline survey was launched from 1 October 2006 for a period of one year in order to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella in flocks of turkeys across the EU. The survey was completed in September 2007 and following analysis by EFSA of the data submitted by the Member States. The results of Part A of the report ‘Salmonella prevalence estimates’ have been used to inform the Community targets for reduction. Part B looks at Salmonella serotype distribution and risk factors for Salmonella infection in Turkeys. Both Part A and Part B of the report have been published and can be found on the EFSA website using the links below:

Consultation on the Implementation of the UK National Control Programme for Turkeys

The UK National Control Programme for the control of Salmonella in Turkeys flocks went out to public consultation on 29 July 2009 and closed on 23 September 2009. The consultation documents, post consultation Impact Assessment and summary of consultation responses are available at the links below.

The Control of Salmonella in Turkey Flocks Order 2009

The National Control Programme for Turkeys came into force on 1 January 2010 and is enforced by the Control of Salmonella in Turkey Flocks Order 2009. The NCP for turkeys sets out the monitoring and controls producers must follow to reduce and/or control the prevalence of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) to 1% or less by 31 December 2012.

    Slaughter pig sector

    The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released the initial results of its EU-wide survey of Salmonella prevalence in slaughter pigs on 9th June 2008. The baseline survey was launched from 1 October 2006 for a period of one year in order to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella in slaughter pigs at abattoirs across the EU.

    The survey was completed in September 2007 and following analysis by EFSA of the data submitted by the Member States, the first part of the report (Part A) ‘Salmonella prevalence estimates’ was published. The second part of the report (Part B) is due to be published later in the year and will look at Salmonella serotype distribution, phage type analysis and antimicrobial resistance testing results.

    A further EU baseline survey looking at Salmonella prevalence in breeding pigs is being run at present (January-December 2008).  The results of these two surveys will be considered in setting reduction targets between the Commission and Member States. The results of the surveys are intended to set a baseline for the EU from which the target is set for the reduction of Salmonella serovars in pigs. The target will not be set until the results of an EFSA funded Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment and a Commission Cost Benefit Analysis have been undertaken. In the light of these results negotiations on targets are likely to be held with member states during early 2010.

    Breeding pig sector

    This 12 month baseline survey commenced on 1 January 2008 and a provisional date for the National Control Programme to be in place by January 2011 has been set.

    See also

    Page last modified: 16 December 2010