Trichina Certification Will Improve Overall Biosecurity of US Pork

US - USDA has proposed a voluntary trichina certification program to ensure that producers standardise their protocols. It would offer those selling to overseas markets a USDA certification of trichinae protections at farm level, but does not require having to test every animal and every product.
calendar icon 8 June 2007
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The current lack of a trichinae control program creates problems for fresh pork in international markets, in spite of the extremely low prevalence of the parasite in US pigmeat.

"Some export markets do require that our fresh pork be either frozen or tested prior to entering their country due to this organism. But once we freeze it, it's technically not fresh," said Dr. David Pyburn, vet medical officer for APHIS swine health programs.

The objective of this program is to provide information about trichinae to producers, and advise control methods that prevent pigs from becoming exposured to trichinae.

Pork produced under these 'Good Production Practices' eliminates exposure to the parasite and are recognised as trichinae-safe.

The certification program will fight the historical perception about the parasite in pork, said Dr Pyburn.

"It's been a reason for quite a while that people have overcooked pork. It's the "worm" in pork that people had to worry about. Historically if you look back over the last 100 years up until about 30 years ago they are probably correct. Trichinella was as issue in pork."

It's occurence is not common today - trichinae is quite rare - but pork still suffers from its legacy. "However, in the late 1070's biosecurity became more important as people invested in high health stock and as a consequence parasite was better controlled too. "We moved toward higher biosecurity within our farms and the prevalence of trichinella is very low," he said, Dr Pyburn.
The industry's switch from swill feeding to grain based diets has also helped.

"It's presence in commercial swine has dropped to such levels that its almost non-existent in the commercial swine industry today," he added

A survey conducted in 2000 by the National Animal Health Monitoring System showed that in the top 17 pork producing states, of 14,121 head tested only 0.007 percent were infected with the parasite.

The previous test conducted in 1995, found 0.015 percent infected. They found one positive out of over 7,000 pigs tested. In the past, pigs were primarily being raised outdoors, but the industry shifted to raising pigs indoors in controlled environments with little contact with the wild.

The trichinae issue is a question of perception. Dramatic declines in prevalence in pigs and the extremely low numbers of cases in humans are largely unrecognised by domestic consumers.
The only means of infection - humans, animals, reptiles - is to actually eat the larvae in uncooked or undercooked meat.

This certification will provide producers with swine management practices that minimize the exposure to trichinella.

"We know the risk factors for trichinella. so let's certify farms for keeping the wildlife and rodents away from swine and for enacting biosecurity standards that the larvae are not fed to swine," said Dr Pyburn.

The program was developed within the industry and certifies a farm that it is implementing a specific set of biosecurity standards and records.

The scheme will include an independent auditing system using accredited vets specifically trained to recognise and evaluate the certification standards. Protocols will be the same as they are for interstate health and export certificates, but thehe frequency of on-farm audits will depend on what stage of certification the producer is at.

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