Project to Control Salmonella in the Iberian Pig

SPAIN - The Universty of Cordoba, and the companies Sociedad Cooperativa Andaluza Agroganadera del Valle de Los Pedroches (COVAP) and PigChamp Pro-Europa are developing a pioneer project in Andalusia whose aim is to control and minimize the presence of salmonella in the Iberian pig, thus improving the health of animals and the food safety of products.
calendar icon 24 June 2009
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Professor Astorga and his fellows research into salmonella

Iberian pigs in Los Pedroches pastures

The objective of the project is to establish a basis for designing a program that improves food health and safety for Iberian pigs; it is based on assessing the pre-slaughter process of animals by carrying out descriptive epidemiological studies of potential zoonosic agents (microorganisms that pass from animals onto humans and vice versa), implementing plans of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and establishing Codes of Good Hygienic Practices in the whole food chain.

Rafael J. Astorga, the researcher leading this project, assured that different aspects of the food in the farm-to-table chain would be improved in order to control salmonella and other zoonosic agents, such as bio safety practices, the handling and treatment and animal feeding in farms, the transport and wait of animals in the farmyards, and the slaughtering and quartering of meat.

The Cordoba-born professor said that at the end of this research work, a programme for monitoring and controlling zoonosic diseases in the Iberian pig will be designed so as to promote quality products that guarantee food safety.

This project, which is supported by Corporación Tecnológica de Andalucía (CTA), a private foundation promoted by the Innovation Ministry of the Andalusian Government, has a budget of 578,000 euros. The aim of this research project is try to identify the presence of other zoonosic diseases which are particularly relevant for public health, such as listeriosis, tuberculosis, campylobacteriosis or trichinellosis.

Likewise, the efficiency of adding different additives to fodder to control salmonella in the Iberian pig shall be also assessed. Finally, the origin of the channels contamination and the crossed contamination circuits in the slaughterhouse will be detected by means of a genetic analysis of salmonella strains isolated.

This study is being carried out as a result of the importance this sector has in the northern Cordoba area, where there are optimum conditions for its exploitation. In fact, there are about 127,000 head of pigs in Andalusia. The Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Los Pedroches, whose main office is in Villanueva de Córdoba, confirms the importance of these exploitations in Los Pedroches region. This guarantee of origin (Denominación de Origen, D.O.) includes 150 farmers and 17 factories of pig-derived products. One of them is COVAP (subscribed to the D.O.) which slaughtered about 80,000 Iberian pigs in 2007, with a turnover of 24.1 millions of euros.

Therefore these are the reasons for this research which aims to improve and protect the Iberian pig sector, whose exploitation in pastures -where animals are fed with grass and acorns of holm oaks, cork trees and gall-oaks- makes pigs be exposed to many environmental factors that contribute to the dissemination of pathogen agents, something difficult to manage. In this kind of extensive production (or semi extensive), the relation among pigs themselves, with the environment and with other species is very important, and the presence of rodents, peridomestic animals and even wild animals (wild boars, foxes, predatory animals) is quite usual.

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