In May, ChileCarne organized two webinars focused on the European Union’s (EU) experience in salmonella control. The first, organized in collaboration with Elanco, was attended by leading international experts. The goal of the meeting was to learn more about the measures taken by the EU to reduce the prevalence of this disease that today mainly impacts farm birds.

The first webinar was held on May 6, and the first presentation was given by Doris Mueller Doblies, veterinarian and Global Poultry Food Safety Technical Leader, who began her talk providing data on the history and evolution of salmonella in the EU, the Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) crisis, and its control strategy. In addition, she provided an overview of the differences in controlling two different strains of this disease: SE and Salmonella Infantis (SI). The expert then talked about another variant, Salmonella Typhimurium (ST), and argued that SE and ST are the two most frequent variants behind human cases in Europe. “70% of human cases in the European Union are caused by these two strains,” she emphasized.

Mueller then spoke about the legislation and regulations regarding this bacterial disease, which affects the digestive system. Currently, there are two control programs: operator sampling, where every producer must take samples from all farms at regular intervals and keep a record of the results, and an official sampling.

Based on EU legislation, all Member States must prepare a program to be approved by the European Commission in order to ensure there is regular monitoring to examine all chicken and turkey production. Finally, Doris Mueller shared some techniques and the most relevant aspects of the main salmonella monitoring conducted in the European Union.

Her presentation was followed by Dmytro Radko, veterinary doctor from the National Agricultural University of Ukraine and Senior Technical Poultry Consultant for Elanco Germany, who contributed his experience in the control of Salmonella Infantis in the EU. The webinar ended with a talk from the largest broiler producer in Austria, who explained how in his experience, effective biosecurity measures have helped reduce the prevalence of Salmonella Infantis.

The second webinar, held on May 12, was headed by Dr. Rob Koojmans, Executive Director of the Food Strategy Institute, who focused his presentation on salmonella prevention in the EU. First, he provided a regulatory overview, in particular of the regulations to control salmonella and other foodborne zoonotic agents. He also explained the regulatory framework of various regulations and their amendments in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Koojmans also explained the scope of various specific programs for salmonella control and provided a summary of the veterinary programs of specific countries.

Thirdly, the international expert addressed the results of salmonella reduction measures in the EU, highlighting the active involvement of each Member State’s food security authorities, thus defining targets for all commodities. Koojmans explained that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) monitors progress, and that there is a centralized budget to provide financial resources to producers when specific actions are needed. “The downward trend in human salmonellosis observed since 2008 has stabilized since 2013,” he said.  The expert also explained that a review of risk factors for salmonella in laying hens revealed that overall evidence points to a lower occurrence in cage-free systems, according to a 2019 review by EFSA.

No conclusion could be reached on the effects of free range or the impact of switching from conventional cages to enriched cages. A similar review for broilers concluded that the impact of free range in salmonella occurrence is not conclusive. “There is conclusive evidence that a higher population density, larger farms, and more stress result in a higher incidence, persistence, and spread of salmonella in laying hen flocks,” he pointed out.