A European Union-wide baseline survey was carried out to determine the prevalence of Salmonella in commercial flocks of broilers.
The survey was done to provide the European Commission with a basis to set reduction targets, which are due to by July 2007, and to provide processors with information on the widely varied infection rates between member states. The survey, carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was conducted on commercial holdings with more than 5,000 broilers between 1 October 2005 and 30 September 2006.
Swedish poultry was found to be clear of the pathogen, while the highest contamination rate was in Hungary at 68.2%, according to the EFSA.
The Salmonella prevalence varied widely amongst the Member States, from 0% to 68.2%. In France, Europe’s largest broiler producer, 6.2% of samples tested positive for salmonella, while the second largest, the UK, had a rate of 8.2%. Infection rates in Finland and Norway were extremely low at 0.1%. Poland had a contamination rate of 58.2 %, Portugal at 43.5%, and Spain with 41.2%.
The EFSA survey found the average salmonella infection rate was 23.7% in broiler chickens across Europe, meaning that in the EU, one in four broiler flocks raised over the one year period of the baseline survey was Salmonella-positive.
The report follows an EFSA study, published in June 2006, which found about one in five of the EU’s large scale commercial egg producers have laying hens infected with the Salmonella spp. pathogen.