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USDA evaluating Salmonella-reduction steps along poultry supply chain

Poultry product contamination with Salmonella has been “reduced pretty significantly” over the past 20-plus years, but “there’s no meaningful reduction in [foodborne] illnesses,” Sandra Eskin, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food safety, told Poultry Health Today. “It is our responsibility to make sure that companies, producers, and processors are doing everything they can to limit contamination,” she added. “Our focus is the condition of the bird when it enters the slaughterhouse. So, everything that comes before that is relevant.”

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Too few aware of FSIS guidelines about live Salmonella vaccines

Vaccination is a valuable tool for reducing the flow of Salmonella from live production, where the pathogen begins, to the processing plant, where USDA tests for it. The problem is that some Salmonella vaccines for broilers can persist in the bird and lead to false but still potentially costly positives. “It’s a conundrum because vaccination against Salmonella is key to controlling the pathogen,” said Douglas L. Fulnechek, senior public health veterinarian, Zoetis, in a recent article. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution.

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Roundtable: Coming together for food safety

Many poultry companies are still struggling to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella — not only to protect public health and produce a wholesome product but also to avoid the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Category 3 designation, which can compromise a company’s reputation as a dependable supplier. Processing plants can no longer be expected to bear sole responsibility for controlling Salmonella. Representatives from live production, processing, quality assurance, and food safety shared ideas for taking an integrated, company-wide approach to managing Salmonella.

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Salmonella serotypes are changing — monitor which ones are in your flock

It’s imperative for poultry producers to know what strains of Salmonella serotypes may be circulating in their flocks, said Chuck Hofacre, DVM, Ph.D., Southern Poultry Research Group in Georgia. “As Salmonellas on farms change, different Salmonellas will start to come into our processing plants,” he noted. “If they’re of human-health concern and…show up on the final product, then we’re going to have to change how we monitor and how we test our breeder and broiler flocks.” He encourages producers to test their farms to understand which Salmonella serovars are in their broilers and/or breeders. 

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Chance of Salmonella vaccine positives at processing ‘zero’ with unique vaccine

Despite being used for years at poultry operations throughout the US, a live vaccine developed by Zoetis has never been recovered from samples taken by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Furthermore, following an exhaustive analysis of all isolates FSIS submitted to the National Center for Biotechnology Information database, scientists could not find any with genetic similarity to the vaccine. In one of the many trials conducted with the vaccine, Poulvac ST, vaccinated flocks were up to three times less likely to test positive for Salmonella compared to unvaccinated flocks. Vaccinated birds also had a higher average daily gain and better adjusted feed conversion.

Read more at poultryhealthtoday.com