July 28, 2014

Denmark Close to Conquering Salmonella

According to new statistics, in 2011 the number of Danes contracting Salmonella infections fell to the lowest level since the 1980s. That country has a strict policy called the Danish National Salmonella Control Program that reduces Salmonella bacteria in egg-laying hens and broilers.

That program works to minimize human exposure to Salmonella from live animals and meat products. It detects, prevents, and controls Salmonella in “primary production”, or on the farm, before there is any threat to human health. These proactive measures, as opposed to the reactive measures of recalls and relying on proper handling by consumers, has reduced the incidence of Salmonella infections to just 1,166 in 2011. And almost half of those infections were contracted by Danes traveling to Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey.

The effort includes a ban on selling eggs from any flocks that test positive for Salmonella. Denmark can also require any imported eggs to be free from Salmonella. In 2011, no breeding flocks were positive for Salmonella. No Danes were infected by Salmonella from chickens raised in that country in 2011. Fresh chickens sold in Denmark must be free from Salmonella bacteria. The Control Program has worked to reduce the percentage of flocks with Salmonella infections to about 1 to 2%. When detected, those flocks are eradicated, so no Salmonella is spread through production and distribution.

According to the report, there were only a few Salmonella outbreaks in 2011; most were sporadic cases. But those cases decreased from 16.4% in 2010 to 7.4% in 2011.  And about 1/4 of those cases could not be tracked to a specific food source. Authorities believe that some foods that are not monitored for Salmonella bacteria, such as fruits and vegetables, were the cause of many of those outbreaks.

The Annual Report on Zoonoses in Denmark 2011 states that “for the first time in more than a decade none of the Salmonella outbreaks could be related to meat of Danish origin.”

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