The global market for turkey products continues to increase steadily each year, with the U.S. producing nearly 43% of the global turkey meat output, according to IndexBox estimates. Hundreds of Salmonella cases are linked to turkeys each year. In 2018, an outbreak of Salmonella Reading caused 358 people from 42 states to become ill. The outbreak was caused by raw turkey products, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reports. An August 2018 USDA report on the aggregate Salmonella categorization of turkey establishments revealed that 50% of processing plants exceeded the maximum allowable positive tests for turkey comminuted products.
With increased pressure from regulators and consumers to ensure safe turkey products, turkey producers must continue to develop Salmonella control programs aimed at reducing Salmonella infections in live-side production. With the impacts of product recalls and company reputations at stake, it’s important for live-side production to consider disease mitigation strategies such as biosecurity measures and the use of vaccines to reduce Salmonella contamination of raw turkey products.
Reducing Salmonella contamination in turkey products takes effort from the entire supply chain, and infection control strategies on the live side play a large role in helping processing plants meet USDA FSIS performance standards.
Implement Biosecurity Measures
Operations need to develop a comprehensive Salmonella prevention control plan that includes feed mills, breeder and commercial turkey facilities and hatcheries, and assess risks regularly.
Biosecurity is the proactive approach to safeguarding the health and productivity of your flock. There are three major requirements for biosecurity: isolation, traffic control, and sanitation. Isolation refers to confining animals in a minimized environment. Traffic control is reducing the amount of equipment and personnel onto and around the operation. Sanitation includes disinfecting materials and equipment entering the farm, plus maintaining cleanliness of the personnel who work in and around the facility.
Biosecurity is an important step to ensuring that a flock’s exposure to Salmonella is minimized to reduce infections in birds before they enter the processing facility.
Mitigation with Vaccines in Poultry
While producers are applying many interventions to target Salmonella in live production, vaccination of commercial turkeys against Salmonella is one that is gaining traction.
In 2018, Elanco partnered with a turkey producer to study the efficacy of Salmonella vaccines by assessing ground turkey samples for the presence of Salmonella, including S. Reading. The study involved evaluating Salmonella presence in ground turkey samples before and after a vaccination program began. The turkey producer began vaccinating commercial poults applied by a coarse spray at placement and again around three weeks of age. Organic and antibiotic-free vaccinated toms entered the processing plant on November 12, 2018, and vaccinated conventional toms entered the plant on January 21, 2019.
A total of 557 ground turkey samples were collected between August 8, 2018, and May 31, 2019, to test the prevalence of Salmonella during the pre-vaccination period, during the transition period when mixed populations of non-vaccinated and vaccinated flocks entered processing, and after January 21, 2019 when 100% of the flocks that entered processing were fully vaccinated Figure 1 (below) shows that overall Salmonella prevalence was reduced by approximately 35% in the ground turkey samples tested during the period when 100% of fully vaccinated flocks entered processing, and the prevalence of S. Reading was reduced by approximately 57%.
Simply put, when included in a comprehensive biosecurity program, a live Salmonella vaccination program aids in stimulating immunity and providing protection against Salmonella infections in a turkey production environment when compared with other vaccines.
Focusing on a holistic approach that includes biosecurity best management practices and a continuum of vaccination throughout the live side provides significant benefit to processing plants in helping to reduce Salmonella contamination in turkey products.
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