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Pathogens of Interest to the Pork Industry: A Review of Research on Interventions to Assure Food Safety

20 March 2013

A thorough review by researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign outlining the common interventions that are currently being conducted at each step in pork production as well as more novel technologies that show promise for greater use for Salmonella, Campylobacter, Trichinella, Toxoplasma, Listeria and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world and is a source of foodborne diseases. To develop effective food safety interventions for pork, it is crucial to understand the nature of the important pathogens affecting the pork industry, their prevalence at different phases of pork production and interventions against pathogens in pork, according to Arica A. Baer and colleagues at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The purpose of their study, published recently in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety was to outline the significance of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Trichinella spiralis, Toxoplasma gondii, Listeria monocytogenes and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to the pork industry.

Trichinella and Toxoplasma are historically relevant pathogens to pork and represent the effectiveness that pre-harvest intervention strategies can accomplish for the control of toxoplasmosis and trichinellosis. Salmonella and Campylobacter are common inhabitants of swine intestines causing a high prevalence of these pathogens on the farm as well as potential contamination during slaughter. However, both Salmonella and Campylobacter can be reduced through on-farm strategies, hygienic slaughter practices and processing technologies. Methicillin-resistant S.aureus is an emerging pathogen with increasing focus on the livestock industry and interventions pre and post-harvest have been considered for reduction of this microorganism.

The greatest challenge for processors is L.monocytogenes as contamination of the further processing environment requires adequate interventions for both pork and the environment, according to Baer and co-authors.

Novel technologies - such as use of bacteriophages, feed additives and high-pressure processing - are being explored as interventions against pathogens of pork. Overall, pork does contribute to foodborne diseases and various interventions are now being used against the different pathogens found in pork, concluded the University of Illinois researchers.

Reference

Baer, A.A., Miller, M.J. and Dilger, A.C. 2013. Pathogens of interest to the pork industry: a review of research on interventions to assure food safety. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 12:183–217. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12001

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

March 2013

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