Dr. Bill D. Potter, Associate Advisor, Poultry Food Safety
Food safety is a critically important task where the American consumer allows no margin for error. A single outbreak affects everyone’s livelihood, along with the brand equity and trust that takes years to build. Because of the potentially extreme consequences, the responsibility of reducing risk cannot be placed solely on the processing plants; it must be shared industrywide.
Processing has traditionally been viewed as the last line of defense for safeguarding consumers
from foodborne disease. But as an integrated company, your organization should make sure every person in the organization understands their role in helping the plant deliver the safest product possible.
Comprehensive Food Safety Begins at the Farm.
The biggest misconception by some in the poultry industry is that processing can solve all pathogen challenges. What we need to do to make sure in-plant interventions have the best opportunity to work is to send the processing plant the lowest possible levels of Salmonella.
Pre-harvest intervention strategies, such as integrating Salmonella vaccines as part of a comprehensive food safety program, can help reduce the amount of Salmonella contamination brought to the processing plant. This allows the in-plant interventions to have a much greater chance of being effective, resulting in lower Salmonella contamination on finished products.
How Do Salmonella Vaccines Work?
The major obstacle to Salmonella control in the poultry industry is the ubiquitous presence of Salmonella. Poultry can be latent carriers, shedding and spreading Salmonella, especially when stressed. Preventing colonization as early and effectively as possible reduces shedding and the subsequent spread of Salmonella.
Salmonella vaccines use tiny doses of live or killed (inactivated) bacteria to stimulate protective immunity in the chickens. Inactivated and live vaccines can be used in breeder birds (parent stock) and egg-laying hens. Live vaccines can also be used in meat birds (broilers and turkeys).
Live vaccines work by colonizing in the bird’s gut and competing with wild-type Salmonella strains, excluding those wild types from proliferating in the bird (“competitive exclusion”) while immunity is being developed.
In addition, vaccines can significantly lessen Salmonella in the crop and internal organs of poultry, which can further reduce the total load of Salmonella challenge facing broilers entering the processing facility.
The Proof Is in the Results.
Salmonella vaccines have been proven to reduce the overall prevalence of Salmonella contamination of birds entering the processing facility, especially high-risk Salmonella B and D serotypes.
These serotypes include Enteritidis, Heidelberg and other highly zoonotic Salmonella serotypes that can be difficult strains to manage with in-plant interventions due to their presence in the meat, bone marrow and muscle of the bird. In addition, these serotypes have been some of the major causes of foodborne illness in humans.
Start the Conversation.
It takes the entire poultry industry working together to prevent a Salmonella outbreak and achieve FSIS Salmonella category 1 status. Food safety and quality assurance professionals can help lead the dialogue, driving the adoption of live-side Salmonella interventions that help complement a plant’s industry-leading efforts.
Elanco Food Safety has the resources to help start a discussion within your organization about reducing Salmonella loads in live birds. Elanco’s team of food safety experts and veterinary consultants are ready to help you lead the discussion.
1Elanco Animal Health. Data on file.
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