An assessment by the European Food Safety Authority suggests that pigs and pig meat may be responsible for 10% to 20% of all human cases of salmonellosis in the European Union and that controlling salmonella more effectively within the pig meat food chain would have a direct impact on reducing the number of human cases.
EFSA’s Biological Hazards Panel (BIOHAZ) evaluated a series of measures to reduce the number of human cases of salmonella. These included ensuring pigs in breeding holdings are free from salmonella, ensuring that the feed is also free from salmonella, adequate cleaning and disinfection of holdings, avoiding contamination during slaughter, and decontaminating carcasses. The panel indicated that a hundredfold reduction of the number of salmonella bacteria on contaminated carcasses would result in a 60% to 80% reduction of the cases of human salmonellosis originating from pig meat consumption.
The experts also indicated that decreasing the levels of salmonella in holdings where pigs are bred would result in the highest reduction of salmonella in pigs going to slaughter.
The BIOHAZ Panel assessment of the public health risks of salmonella in pigs was based on a Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment, which provided a quantitative estimate of the existing risk factors and likely effects of the measures proposed to reduce them. The panel’s opinion was also based on data from two baseline surveys, on salmonella in breeder and in slaughter pigs, produced by EFSA’s Zoonoses Data Collection Unit.