One in four Belgian poultry farms infected with Salmonella

21-06-2006 | |

About a quarter of Belgian poultry farms are contaminated with salmonella, higher than the European average and three times the rate recorded in the Netherlands, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a report.

The European Food Safety Authority said more than 50% of poultry farms in some EU countries are contaminated with salmonella.

Its report also revealed that of the major commercial poultry farms in Belgium 26.2% were infected, newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ reported on Tuesday.

This is higher than the EU average of 20.3%. Just 7.9% of Dutch farms are infected.

The Federal Food Agency in Belgium is aware of the problem, but said it has intensified the battle against salmonella in recent years.

Currently the country has a voluntary vaccination programme against salmonella in farms.

“We are seeing today a spectacular improvement in battery hens and reduced salmonella poisoning is being reported among the public, ” a spokesman said.

About 10,000 salmonella poisoning cases among humans are reported each year in Belgium.

In the near future, poultry farms will be obligated to vaccinate their birds against salmonella. However, the vaccine is not a 100% guarantee.

Salmonella in chicken meat and raw eggs is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning in Belgium. This has a lot to do with kitchen hygiene, because random tests have shown that less than 3% of the eggs at an infected farm are contaminated with the salmonella bacteria.