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Int J Food Microbiol. 1998 Nov 10;44(3):219-29.

Impact on human health of Salmonella spp. on pork in The Netherlands and the anticipated effects of some currently proposed control strategies.

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Department of the Science of Food of Animal Origin, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


The impact on human health of Salmonella spp. on pork in The Netherlands is described. Subsequently, the effects of some currently proposed control strategies in the Dutch pork production chain are evaluated and quantified with the aid of a simple mathematical model. The estimated average incidence of cases of salmonellosis in the Netherlands is about 450 cases per 100,000 person years at risk (pyar). Some special risk groups for which the risks could be quantified are (1) persons with underlying diseases, such as neoplasms or diabetes mellitus (1200 cases/100,000 pyar); (2) persons with achlorhydria or who excessively use antacids (1100 cases/100,000 pyar); (3) persons who have recently been treated with antibiotics that disturb the normal gut flora (1700 cases/100,000 pyar); (4) nurses (900 cases/100,000 pyar); (5) caterers (900 cases/100,000 pyar); (6) slaughterline personnel (1800 cases/100,000 pyar). Furthermore, it is estimated that 15% (5-25%) of all cases of salmonellosis in The Netherlands are associated with the consumption of pork. Currently, proposed control measures regarding Salmonella in pigs and on pork in The Netherlands are codes of good manufacturing practices (GMP) that, in fact, formalize recommendations that can be found in many handbooks about pig breeding and pig slaughtering. When evaluated by a mathematical model constructed for this purpose, the proposed GMP codes from farm to cutting/retail could, at best, reduce the current levels of Salmonella-positive pigs and pork by 50-60%. If pigs were bred according to the rather costly specific pathogen-free concept (SPF), the prevalence of contaminated carcasses and pork could in total be reduced by 95% or more. However, implementing GMP codes from the transport phase up to the cutting/retail phase coupled with a decontamination step at the end of the slaughterline would be just as effective as GMP in combination with breeding using the SPF-concept. It is therefore concluded that the most efficient and cost-effective way of reducing the 'Salmonella problem' entailed by the consumption of pork would be to decontaminate carcasses under the precondition that the entire production chain strictly adheres to GMP principles. Therefore, the EU should also allow for more possibilities regarding the decontamination of carcasses than is currently the case. It is also concluded that current EU regulations relying on hazard analysis of critical control points (HACCP)-inspired production in cutting plants will not be effective in reducing the prevalence of Salmonella spp. on pork. This is mainly because (1) there is currently an almost steady stream of Salmonella-positive carcasses that enter the cutting process; (2) when contaminated carcasses are being processed, further cross-contamination during working hours is unavoidable; (3) no steps in the cutting process are intentionally designed to effectively reduce the risks or consequences of cross contamination of cuts and retail-ready products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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