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Tracking the Salmonella Status of Pigs and Pork from Lairage through the Slaughter Process in the Republic of Ireland

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Abstract:

Salmonella Typhimurium is the predominant serotype isolated from humans in Europe. Pork and pork products are recognized vehicles of Salmonella and are responsible for outbreaks of human salmonellosis. Pigs can become infected with Salmonella on the breeding or fattening farm and during transport, lairage, and slaughter. The aim of this study was to investigate selected points of Salmonella contamination from the time pigs entered the lairage to the time the carcass was processed in the boning hall and to determine the importance of different sources of Salmonella along the Irish pork production chain. A second objective was to evaluate whether the serological status or category of a herd influenced the levels of bacteriological contamination detected on individual carcasses and pork cuts during slaughter and dressing operations. All samples were tested for the presence and numbers of Salmonella. Enterobacteriaceae numbers were also determined. Serotype, phage type, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis were utilized to determine similarity among Salmonella isolates. Lairage was a major source of cross-contamination with Salmonella as were the hands of evisceration operatives, conveyor belts, and equipment in the boning hall. Cross-contamination within the slaughter plant environment accounted for up to 69 % of Salmonella carcass contamination. In general, herd category reflected the bacteriological status of carcasses and pork cuts. Major findings were a strong association (P < 0.01) between Enterobacteriaceae counts and Salmonella occurrence on prechill carcasses and a significant association (P < 0.05) between Enterobacteriaceae counts and Salmonella occurrence on pork cut samples.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Safety, Ashtown Food Research Centre, Teagasc, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Republic of Ireland 2: School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland 3: Biosystems Engineering, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland 4: Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Backweston Campus, Youngs Cross, Celbridge, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland 5: Department of Food Safety, Ashtown Food Research Centre, Teagasc, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Republic of Ireland;, Email: geraldine.duffy@teagasc.ie

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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