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J Appl Microbiol. 2003;95(5):891-903.

Salmonella on pig carcasses: positive pigs and cross contamination in the slaughterhouse.

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Department for Animal Product Quality and Transformation Technology, Centre for Agricultural Research-Ghent, Brusselsesteenweg, Melle, Belgium.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of Salmonella in pigs at the moment of slaughter and in the slaughterhouse environment.


In total, five different commercial slaughterhouses were sampled during eight slaughterhouse visits. Carcass swabs, colon content and mesenteric lymph nodes were taken to reflect the animal status and from the slaughterhouse environmental samples were taken. Salmonella was isolated from 37% of the carcass samples as a mean value. High variations were noticed between different slaughterhouses (between 0 and 70%) and sampling days in the same abattoir (between 3 and 52%). A correlation was found between the carcass contamination and the status of the delivered animals (P=0.01675). Cross contamination was estimated to account for 29% of the positive carcasses. The slaughterhouse environment was highly contaminated; before starting the slaughtering activities 25% of the samples were positive on average. The most prevalent serotypes isolated at the slaughterhouse environment and from the colon content were S. Typhimurium, S. Livingstone and S. Derby. On carcasses S. Typhimurium was predominately isolated (71%). The biggest variability of serotypes was found in the mesenteric lymph nodes. Serologically 56.3% of the pigs were found positive for Salmonella using a cut-off level of the optical density percentage higher than 10 (O.D.% > or = 10). While on individual pig level the correlation between the bacteriological and serological data was poor, because of recent Salmonella infections, a better correlation was found at the herd level on the moment of slaughtering.


A high degree of carcass contamination is noticed after slaughtering. This contamination resulted from the delivery of Salmonella-positive pigs and cross-contamination from the slaughterhouse environment.


In pigs, Salmonella carriage is high, but it is obvious that slaughterhouse hygiene is a determinative factor for managing carcass contamination.

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