Why ZAP must keep one step ahead

UK - In order to stay one step ahead of EU coercion, UK pig producers need to ensure their voluntary salmonella reduction scheme, ZAP, is a tangible success.
calendar icon 7 October 2003
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The annual cost of food-borne salmonella in Europe is claimed to total nearly 32 billion a year and with this in mind the European Union introduces two new laws next month.

The first covers the monitoring of zoonotic agents, the aim being to improve knowledge about the sources and trends of pathogens. This information will be used to support microbiological risk assessments.

The second seeks to reduce zoonotic agents on farms, particularly salmonella. After an investigation into its prevalence in all the member states, reduction targets will be set, country by country. Countries that decide to introduce mandatory control levels will be eligible for EU co-financing.

UK pig producers will escape EU-driven coercion, because they already have a zoonosis reduction plan in ZAP, which comes fully operational in January. The UK plan is modelled on Denmark's tried and tested salmonella reduction plan.

Brussels is not restricting its attentions to primary producers. It will introduce a food hygiene package in a bid to improve the implementation of hygiene measures not only at farm level but throughout the food chain.

The new legislation will make it possible to monitor anti-microbial resistance not only for zoonotic agents, but also for other relevant bacteria.

Salmonella controls will progressively cover poultry, then breeding pigs, and finally slaughter pigs. Controls in the initial phase will be restricted to the few serotypes of salmonella that represent over 70 percent of reported cases of salmonellosis in humans.

Brussels accepts that zoonoses are notoriously difficult to control, as a number of the micro-organisms involved are found everywhere in nature. It believes pathogen reduction in animals is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infection via food.

The first targets will be set 12 months after the new law becomes effective at the beginning of next month and at 12-month intervals after that.

It will be several years before targets are set for finishing pigs, by which time the effects of the UK pig industry ZAP scheme will have reduced zoonosis levels in the national pig herd.

For trade between EU countries and third countries, certification of salmonella status will progressively be made obligatory.

Source: National Pig Association - 7th October 2003

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