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Abattoir Survey 2003

by 5m Editor
23 November 2004, at 12:00am

UK - The results of an abattoir survey of foodborne pathogens that was carried out last year, are the subject of a meeting today to discuss their implications for both animal and public health.

The meeting - Foodborne Pathogens in Cattle, Sheep and Pigs in Great Britain - is jointly organised by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Speakers from the VLA will present findings from the survey and the HPA will consider these in relation to human health.

This is the second such survey to be carried out, the first being completed in 1999/2000. The two surveys have provided a scientifically derived base line and early trend data, which can now be used to assess action taken to reduce the incidence and/or effects of foodborne organisms.

Findings include:

  • The Salmonella carriage in pigs at 23.4% was significantly higher than that for cattle or sheep but there was no change from the previous survey. The pig industry has put a large programme in place, Zoonoses Action Plan (ZAP), to address the level of carriage in pigs. The levels of Salmonella in both cattle and sheep have increased since the last survey but remain low at 1.4% and 1.1% respectively.

  • The prevalence of vero-cytotoxic producing E coli O157 faecal carriage was 4.7% in cattle, 0.7% in sheep and 0.3% in pigs. In sheep a significant decrease was detected from the previous survey, but there was no significant change for the other two species.

  • Thermophilic Campylobacter species were isolated from 54.6% cattle, 43.8% sheep and 67.3% pigs. This appears to be a significant increase since the last survey for cattle and sheep but a more sensitive isolation method was used. A comparison of the test used for cattle and sheep with the one used previously suggested that the levels, in cattle and sheep, would probably have been lower than those obtained previously if the original test had been applied.

In addition, this meeting will be used as a forum to publish the UK Zoonoses Report 2003. The overall results of the abattoir survey are included in the report and will be of interest to all with an interest in foodborne disease and public health.

A further meeting, focussing on the levels of antimicrobial resistance in specific foodborne pathogens found during the course of the survey, will be held at NAC Stoneleigh on 20th January 2005.

Source: Defra - 23rd November 2004

5m Editor