Why is it necessary to control Salmonella in live poultry production?
Estimated to cause 93 million infections and 155,000 deaths each year1, Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne pathogens worldwide2.
In the United States, it causes 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths annually3, and costs the American economy $3.7 billion4. That figure doesn’t include the loss of sales as consumer confidence declines, the product recalls, lawsuits, or the cost associated with government agencies investigating the outbreaks4.
Salmonella impacts families, businesses and society but infections are preventable and as food producers, there are some relatively simple measures that can be put in place to reduce the risk of contamination.
1. Ensure incoming poultry and egg stock are free from Salmonella
Salmonella can be transmitted from hen to egg. Check incoming stock comes from breeders or hatcheries that have, and implement, thorough biosecurity risk assessments and mitigation measures.
At the apex of the production, poultry breeders can potentially spread Salmonella to many commercial flocks. Suppliers that use measures such as change-in-change-out (of farm or shed clothing and footwear) or better still, shower-in-shower-out, reduce the risk of contaminating parent stock with the bacterium.
Multi-age stocking increases the risk of enteropathogens, like Salmonella, spreading between flocks. Breeders that take an all-in-all-out approach to production further minimize the risk of cross-contamination between flocks.
Hatcheries are ideal environments for spreading Salmonella contamination. Depending upon the air flow, dust from contaminated eggs in hatchers or incubator can spread bacterium to other areas of the hatchery. Ask your hatchery if they disinfect eggs.
2. Check housing to prevent Salmonella-carrying wildlife from accessing
Wild birds, rodents and insects are all potential sources of enteropathogens. Ensure housing is secure and use pest control measures such as traps and baits to prevent this source of infection.
3. Mitigate the risk of humans carrying Salmonella into poultry houses with sanitation and hygiene measures
Humans entering sheds can be effective vectors for pathogens but sanitation and hygiene measures such as footbaths and change-in-change-out procedures are good ways of reducing contamination risk.
4. Provide fresh, clean litter for poultry
Treat litter with a product proven to minimize enteropathogen populations and replace litter when introducing a new batch or flock.
Often a naturally absorbent material, litter can introduce pathogens to primary poultry production. If litter is re-used with multiple flocks or batches, litter can act as a vector, transmitting Salmonella from one flock of birds to another.
5. Ensure water drawn from natural sources is treated, and drinkers are cleaned
There are a number of ways to ensure water from natural sources is free from pathogens. Filtering, chemical treatments and reverse osmosis are all effective approaches.
6. Choose pelleted feed treated with a proven Salmonella-eliminating product with residual action
Feed is major vehicle of transmission of Salmonella and a critical control point for primary producers. Often types of Salmonella, or serovars, found in feed mills are also found in birds.
Heat treatments reduce Salmonella in feed, which is why pelleted feeds are considered much safer than mashes. However, the effect is short-lived and re-contamination is possible even within the mill during cooling, packing, transport and storage.
Feeds treated with products such as Finio or Termin-8 benefit from their residual effect and are protected from Salmonella for longer, enough to see the feed safely delivered to, and consumed by, the birds.
7. Use prebotics to promote probotics and reduce Salmonella in poultry
Prebiotics encourage the growth and persistence of probiotics such as lactic acid bacteria. Probiotics, in turn, reduce the likelihood and the persistence of pathogen colonization. Feeds which include the prebiotics β-glucans and fructooligosaccarides have been shown to reduce Salmonella colonization, for example.
8. Test poultry for Salmonella before transport, and clean crates, trucks and tyres
Transportation of birds is another critical control point. There’s significant risk of contamination and cross-contamination via the people and the equipment used. Ensuring there are strict hygiene and sanitation measures in place for those catching and transporting poultry is essential. Disinfecting crates, trucks and tyres is also vital.
Sampling and testing flocks before movement enables transporters and processors to reduce the risk of contaminating subsequent flocks and reduce the risk of infection downstream. Contaminated birds can be quarantined and processed at the end of the day, for example, and resulting products can be frozen or cooked before entering the food chain.