EU wide task force to reduce salmonella in chickens

The European Commission will set an EU-wide reduction target in broiler flocks for two salmonella types following recently published EFSA research.

The European Commission will set an EU-wide reduction target in broiler flocks for two salmonella types following recently published European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) research.

EFSA's survey on the levels of salmonella detected in broiler flocks (chickens reared for meat) across the EU is based on figures between 2005 and 2006.

Salmonella was estimated to be present in almost one in four flocks (23.7%) according to the survey which was compiled by EFSA's Zoonoses Task Force comprising expert representatives from EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland.

Informed by these results, the European Commission's reduction target focuses on two of the salmonella types (Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium) that are responsible for most cases of salmonella related food poisoning in humans.

In a statement from EFSA, it said: "The task force is also recommending action at national level to reduce other types of salmonella of importance to public health as well as consumer education campaigns and strict implementation of EU food hygiene legislation in mass catering to increase consumer protection."

Detection levels in flocks varied significantly between member states with salmonella being found in 0% to 68.2% of national flocks.

According to national figures provided in EFSA's 2005 zoonoses report, 0 to 18% of fresh (raw) chicken meat samples were contaminated with salmonella.

Salmonella was the second most reported cause of food-borne diseases in humans in Europe with 176,395 people suffering from salmonella infections in 2005 (approximately 38 people in every 100,000).

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