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Outdoor Pigs: Higher Risk of Exposure to Parasites

by 5m Editor
7 December 2010, at 10:30am

US - Intensive pork production does not appear to result in increased risk for the major bacterial foodborne pathogens that are common commensals of the pig, nor are pigs produced in alternative systems apparently at reduced risk of colonisation with these organisms, according to new research from University of Minnesota.

Peter R. Davies of the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota has published the results of his work investigating the possible link between the intensification of pig production and the safety of pig meat. His paper is to be published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.

Dr Davies explains that major structural changes in livestock production in developed countries, particularly intensive confinement production and increases in herd and flock sizes, have raised several societal concerns about the future directions and implications of livestock food production, including the safety of meat products.

His review of the major parasitic and bacterial foodborne pathogens associated with pork production indicates that pork safety in the United States has improved demonstrably over recent decades. Most notably, changes in swine production methods have been associated with virtual elimination of risk of the foodborne parasites Taenia solium, Trichinella spiralis and Toxoplasma gondii from pigs reared on modern intensive farms. This represents a substantial public health achievement that has gone largely unheralded, he says.

Regulatory changes have led to demonstrably lower prevalence of Salmonella on pork carcasses, but control of bacterial foodborne pathogens on farms remains a significant challenge.

Available evidence does not support the hypothesis that intensive pork production has increased risk for the major bacterial foodborne pathogens that are common commensals of the pig (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and Yersinia enterocolitica), or that pigs produced in alternative systems are at reduced risk of colonisation with these organisms, according to Dr Davies. However, pigs raised in outdoor systems inherently confront higher risks of exposure to foodborne parasites, particularly T. gondii.

Reference

Davies P.R. 2010. Intensive Swine Production and Pork Safety. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Not available, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2010.0717.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.